Review Summary: Pretty disappointed, but not surprised. Great Musicianship, familiar song structures and instrumentation. Couldn't be more perfectly average.
I usually feel compelled to write reviews after reading a review for an album I feel wasn't given a proper rating. This is one of those occasions. When you read an album review that is (A) given a perfect 5 rating, and (B) compared to one of your favorite bands (in this case Opeth) most people feel compelled to give that certain band a try. And I did just that. This morning I went to UPS and picked up my six c.d.'s I ordered. (Protest the Hero-Kezia, Cryptopsy-None So Vile, Planet X-Quantum, Meshuggah-Chaosphere, and Necrophagist-Epitaph were the others if you even care) I probably threw this album in second behind Planet X, and after only a mere 15 seconds of [b]Beyond the Dark Sun[B/]I knew this would be a letdown. I should have known though. I met up with one of my friends last Wednesday at Progressive Nation after Opeth got done playing and asked him, “Hey, did you end up checking out Wintersun?” Mike replied, “yeah, they sound like Children of Bodom”. Now, in the back of my head I did a [i]“goddammit!!”[I/], but I tried stayed positive. After all, CoB isn't that bad, are they?
My first and biggest problem with this band is they don't have any musical ideas of how they are going to separate themselves from everybody else. The song structures and musical sections all sound too familiar. For example, the opening riff in [b]Beyond the Dark Sun[B/] while a cool riff, could just as easily be a riff used in many other metal bands and I wouldn't know the difference. And the riffs aren't the only thing that is generic. The drummer does a standard faster beat, which probably wasn't a good idea seeing how it only further propelled the song into my “forgettable” category. And thats one thing this band is lacking. Even when [b]Chuck Shuldiner[B/] (Death) wrote a sub-par riff and put it in his song, [b]Gene Hoglan[B/] or [b]Richard Cristie[B/] would step in and usually accent the drums to make the riff and part as a whole more interesting. Thats something these guys don't really do, and thats why they'll never be a great metal band. Another prime example would be in [b]Starchild[B/] about 3:25 into the song, the vocalist begins to sing/talk over very basic music, and it just seems very bland and not thought out. And there isn't really anything noteworthy to mention before or after that section either.
I always like to critique individual members, and I'll start with easily the most lacking part of this band (and most metal bands), the bass. It's important for me to note that Jari Maenpaa (vocals/guitar) played bass on this album. But that still doesn't excuse for the lack of bass or thought put into the instrument. I'm sick of hearing metal bands that pass off this instrument as expendable. Honestly, how well the bassist plays and the mixing of bass on an album is usually a tell-tale sign of how good a band is and how much they put in their music.
Vocal-wise, Jari isn't terrible, he definitely likes the higher pitched, Black metal approach, and I like that I can understand what he is saying about 47% of the time, which is much better than the 13.2% of the time I can understand what the average metal vocalist is saying. And he can actually sing decently too, but only decently. On the track [b]Death and the Healing[B/], Jari throws in some vocal melodies at around the 2-3 minutes mark that I can actually stomach.
The Keyboards are also done by Jari, and they mostly just add an ambient atmosphere, and Jari does a decent job at it. As far as the guitar work goes, it is definitely tight, but there isn't much substance. There are basically a ton of epic “metal” riffs, if you get what I mean. However, and I do mean how***INGever, I did stumble upon one of the best guitar solos of all time on this album. About 4 minutes into [b]Death and the Healing[B/], a dual guitar melody creeps through, and fades out with Jari coming into a breathtaking lead, which is quite oriental sounding, with very aggressive sliding going on. This goes on for about 15 seconds, and then a Dimebagesque part ambushes the oriental feel, only to end off with more oriental slideage. Truly a breathtaking solo, more than I expected to hear by far.
Kai Hahto executes all of his fills and beats well and does a decent job in the skill facet of drumming, but creatively he's a bore. I don't remember hearing anything that made me want to rewind and catch what he was doing, the only thing the drums made want to do is focus on the guitar more.
If I had to touch on the good points of this album, I'd say if anything this is a straight-up fun listen. You're not going to find anything (outside the amazing solo I mentioned earlier) that will send shivers up your spine, but if you want good musicianship and uplifting tempos, check these guys out. They're no Death, Opeth, or Necrophagist, but if you like powermetalish music with some black metal vocals sprinkled in for good measure, these guys might leave you with a smile on your face.
The solo in “Death and Healing”
wheres the bass?
Drumming is average
structure is too standard
Final Verdict = 6.28/10