Review Summary: What's all the fuss?
Right off the bat I'll tell you something. I wanted to love this album, I enjoy melodic death metal and power metal, especially when they're mixed together. I really like Ensiferum
even though I only have one album; and the amount of reviews praising this album as a classic are too many to count. So, how come when I find myself listening to it, I think, "What's all the fuss?"
Yes. That's right, I am, in fact, disappointed by the Wintersun
album everyone seems to love. Sure, it's good, but it certainly isn't godly by any means. The word overrated comes to mind here. As you can see by the rating, I do like the album, it's just I was expecting... more, reading up on most reviews online (and on this site) nearly all of them worship this album beyond belief yet I just see it as a pretty solid album. Okay then, personal opinion aside (not really, as all reviews are someones opinion), let's get on to the music.
The album opens powerfully with 'Beyond the Dark Sun' with a catchy riff and quick drumming from the get-go. Also add in some weird keyboard effects, then Jari comes in with spoken vocals, followed by his ear piercing scream. At this moment I am pretty much loving the album, it's quick, it's fast, and it has a bite to it. So is it living up to the hype after the first song? Well, yes, an almost perfect opener, discounting the slightly repetitive main riff, but then again it is a short song, so that doesn't really matter. Unfortunately, straight after the first song the album starts to deteriorate in quality for me, with the next song 'Winter Madness' only having some good moments, and at over five minutes, it is slightly boring, saved by the vocal work of Jari, who pulls off a great performance here, and on many other songs too.
As you should already know, Jari made most of this album by himself, apart from the drums, and that is a bit of a problem for me. I'm not against people creating there own albums like this, I love Solo Artists, Dan Swano
is a god amongst men, and his solo work is breathtaking. But it just seems to me that Jari, while being more than a competent musician and a decent song writer, doesn't add enough variety in his riffing or the songs as a whole. Sure, the riffs aren't the same, and the song structures only have some similarities, but you can tell he did all of this, it all sounds similar, each riff is pretty much the same tempo and this is where, in other bands, another guitarist might come in handy. Each guitarist in the world plays his instrument differently, I can guarantee it, and each one will have their own ideas and own way of playing. Jari obviously has his own style, and I am impressed with his technicality, but this album is nearly an hour long and in desperate need of more variety, in fact, only one of the songs sounds unique compared to the rest of the album, and that is 'Beautiful Death', which is certainly the heaviest, grimmest song on here. This shows that Jari can do this, and by this, I mean explore slightly different emotions in his music, rather than just repeating the same icy feeling in most of the other songs, this song gives off a feeling of despair and doom and is one of the highlights of the album.
This album, even with it's faults is still great, the musicianship of Jari is inarguable, he plays pretty much every instrument perfectly, and his vocals are at an all time high here. Also, the drumming is great, not very varied, but it impresses thanks to the quickness and accuracy of the beats. Jari is certainly a competent song writer, and he needs to be as he has made nearly an hours worth of music by himself, despite some of the tracks sounding similar, there are a couple of highlights, and each of the songs have something to make them pretty good, but sometimes, the wait for these parts are too long, and when they're over the songs just gets average again. The obvious highlight of the album is 'Starchild', and it sums up the album in just under eight glorious minutes. The opening, while being similar to several of the other songs, is jaw-dropping, and when Jari starts singing, you just know that this song is going to be special. And only after several listens will you realise why this song is so much better than most of the others, it is constantly
changing, you need to pay attention to notice the subtleties, but they are there, whether you notice them or not. One thing I haven't given Wintersun
enough credit for is the atmosphere they create, even though the riffs and some of the keyboard work is repetitive, it gives off an icy impression, and while listening, you can imagine Jari produced this in an icy wasteland. Some of the songs also have some epic moments to them, especially the aforementioned 'Starchild' and the slow but rocking 'Sleeping Stars'.
Musically, the album impresses, and the atmosphere is unique and carries on throughout the entire album. But I still cannot figure out why people praise this as much as they do, the riffs are similar, the keyboard work is used pretty much the same way through out the album, and the bass is nearly indistinguishable. Hell, even the vocals do get slightly tiring after listening for nearly an hour. I know this sounds like I'm just an attention seeker here, but I'm really not, I'll be the first to agree with anyone who says this is a good album, but in no way, shape, or form is it a classic. No way.