Crucify me upside down, but I’d never heard of Finland-based Wintersun before. Judging the 140,000 worth of likes on their Facebook page these guys must be incredibly popular or I’m simply poking around too much in the metal underground lately. Be that as it may, the Wintersun lads certainly managed to bring a whole new meaning to the word “epic” with “Time I”, their latest creative outing.
For the uninitiated try to imagine a combination of orchestral bombast of Therion (choirs included!), the stark atmosphere of Nightwish’s “Dark Passion Play” and “Imaginaerum”, the slick arrangements of Epica and epic/folk drama of Turisas and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what Wintersun is all about. Coming from a prog rock/metal background I’m no stranger to concept albums and other grandiose stories. However, “Time I” is by far the most resplendent of them all.
Listening to “Time I” is just like listening to Wagner’s “Der Ring Des Nibelungen”. They’re both brilliant in terms of compositional excellence, rich textures and epic arrangements and the sheer musical endeavour gives them a certain monumental feel and status. This certainly applies to tracks like ‘Sons Of Winter And Star’, ‘Land Of Snow’ and the title track. Seen from the angle and the intent those compositions are written with and seen within the overall musical context of the album they all work very well.
“Time I” by Wintersun rubs me the wrong way as many albums by Nightwish, Epica, Therion and Turisas. All these bands share the same habit of endlessly stretching the same set of ideas over and over again and disguise this under a cloak of orchestral bombast and massive choirs all in a rather sad attempt to make it sound “epic” or whatever that may mean. Not to mention the incredibly overproduced sound that they’ll seem to relish in. With “Time I” it’s sadly the same case. The emphasis is clearly on the orchestral and symphonic elements, thus smothering any potential power from the guitars and drums. Despite the occasional screams and blast beats, there’s simply no element of danger to be found on this album.
With the current popularity of female fronted metal and folk/pagan metal in mind I can perfectly understand why “Time I” will do incredibly well within the mainstream metal circles. It’s epic (I really despise that word) and it ticks all the right boxes within Wintersun’s field of music. Ultimately, this album is simply not meant for my jaded set of ears… or maybe it’s just my age…