Wintersun – Time I
Well, that was good. Now where’s the rest of it? I assume many are going to ask this question when Wintersun’s oft-postponed Time I finishes its bare forty minutes of music. It does seem somehow cruel to make mouthwatering fans wait eight years for five songs, and we can only guess as to the commercial (or, as if, artistic) reasons behind the split. There is however one comfort: Time I or as I like to call it, About Time is well worth your… exactly.
Now, seeing that this thing only has five songs (two of which instrumental), I imagine this review will be quite short (note from the future: it won’t be). We kick off with “When Time Fades”, a grand symphonic piece covering everything from film scores to folk music. It’s an impressive opener, setting the tone for the majesty of “Sons Of Winter And Stars”: the obvious main attraction of the album. With its fast-galloping power metal melodies, melodic death growls, orchestral punches and grandiose atmosphere, it is as fulfilling an epic as you can expect. Now would be a good moment to express my lack of knowledge of Wintersun’s self-titled debut (online metal hordes, chastise me!), but what I’m hearing here is not the symphonic melo-death the band is often described as. Truthfully Time I much more resembles a blend of power, progressive, symphonic and melodic death metal.
Which brings us neatly to the comparison corner. Some may have noticed Time I shares a similar cover and running length with While Heaven Wept’s Fear Of Infinity, but they aren’t too far removed in ambition and scope either. Crossing over between genres to deliver highly emotive speeches of wandering and solitude, both While Heaven Wept and Wintersun have made epic melancholy their bitch. My preference goes to the Americans, who often scale back to more bare and intimate material such as “Unplenitude”, while Wintersun never lets their hair down for long. It’s a difference in approach I can appreciate, and it settles the Finns nicely in between While Heaven Wept’s heartfelt balladry and the other extreme: the elemental fury of Pathfinder. What the power metal Poles have tried to cultivate over two records is a hyperkinetic mix of Dragonforce and Rhapsody, but I feel Time I may be much closer to what they had in mind.
Any track would feel dwarfed following a marvelous mammoth like “Sons Of Winter And Stars”, which is almost an EP on its own, and “Land Of Snow And Sorrow” doesn’t quite pack the same punch. However, it is here that the While Heaven Wept-comparison really starts to stick, and Wintersun shows another, more personal side I would be glad to see more of. The title track plays out in a similar fashion, with a chorus drenched in hauntingly beautiful melancholy. Points go to the clean vocals here, which make the growls feel grounded. Say about Jari Mäenpää what you will, the man’s got a very powerful and versatile voice.
In the end, I can’t help but feel I just went through half an experience. As far as wintery wonders this year go, Orden Ogan’s To The End is a much more complete journey, while Time I is just that: one out of two. Where Fear Of Infinity (which is even shorter) felt as a whole, Time I feels like a half. Come March, we’ll see how Wintersun continues this frostbitten tale, but after all the anticipation and almost mythical proportions it grew into, Time I is a very satisfactory result. Now, as I have began this review with, where’s the rest of it?
Arno’s rating: 4.0 out of 5