Wintersun are a band that you could write a book about. They’ve had an interesting career to this point which includes a brilliant debut album, an 8 year span between albums, a second album “Time” that was split into two albums but only the first part (“Time I”) has been released. Their drummer Kai Hahto joined Swallow the Sun during the 8 years between those albums and has since left Swallow the Sun to join Nightwish.
Add to this that band leader Jari Mäenpää has battled writer’s block, studio problems, disagreements with their label over album advances. This all has led them to this point. “Time II” is shelved for the time being and instead the band is releasing “The Forest Seasons.” I won’t get into the crowd funding that’s not only supporting this album but future albums as well.
I loved “Time I” and like many people, I really wanted to hear “Time II.” But I am also someone who believes that artists should do whatever they believe in at the time. So if they want to do the metal equivalent of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” I am up for it. “The Forest Seasons” has four long songs with each being named for one season. Each track is an epic so this album is not for the faint of heart and many people might not be ready for it.
“Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring)” kicks off the album with power and aggression but like anything Wintersun does, there’s SOOOO much going on in over 14 minutes of music including layers upon layers of instrumentation. Mäenpää uses mostly his blackened death vocal but there’s a chant section that harkens back to his days with Ensiferum. The song goes by a lot faster than 14 minutes which is always a good sign for long epics.
“The Forest That Weeps (Summer)” is next up. And like “Spring,” it starts with a new age like intro before the whole band kicks in. While the first track had more blast beats from Hahto, this one is more groove oriented. Once again, the arrangement is flat out incredible, I mean a sitar solo?? The choir vocals on the chorus are a nice touch as well. At a mere 12:18, it’s the shortest track on “The Forest Seasons.”
Things get decidedly more intense (not that it hasn’t been to this point) on the third epic, “Eternal Darkness (Autumn).” It’s interesting that Autumn does seem to represent death while the final track “Loneliness (Winter)” has a peace to it. “Eternal Darkness (Autumn)” is a powerhouse and the strings make it sound like you’re descending into hell. The final song is also the grand slower track on the album, which reminds me a bit of “Time” from the last album.
There is so much going on on “The Forest Seasons” that it’s actually hard to feel satisfied writing a review. I have heard more each time that I’ve listened to this album which is always what I hope will be the case with something this fucking epic. I can’t even effectively describe the massive sound that the album has as a whole. I thought “Time I” sounded big but this album is a beast. If you are willing to invest your time and FULL attention to “The Forest Seasons,” you will reap the rewards of an absolute masterpiece. “Time II” can wait.
1. “Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring)”
2. “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)”
3. “Eternal Darkness (Autumn)”
4. “Loneliness (Winter)”