ENSIFERUM fans have yet to cease their frowning caused by the departure of Jari Mäenpää, the rest of us who didn’t have any historical relationships with the Finnish Folk Metal act have been struck by WINTERSUN, the band formed by the very same Mäenpää, who thought it would be a good idea to see some of his personal creations come to life.
Since I’m not familiar with Jari’s former band I won’t give you comparisons and focus solely on WINTERSUN. Started out as a solo project, the band has gathered a lot of good response from the public, which eventually will lead to live stage demands, I’m definitely putting this on my top ten list that’s for sure.
Ok, Jari does everything on this CD minus the drumming and percussion work, which is played by Kai Hahto of ROTTEN SOUND; he’s written and produced the whole affair and does most of the instrumentation, this should be enough to call him a raging workaholic, a skilled workaholic cause everything he does on the debut is pure gold, the brutal vocals, clean vocals, tight riffing, jaw dropping solos, everything has the maturity of an accomplished musician and song writer.
Musically we’re talking keyboard tinged, Epic, Progressive Extreme Metal executed through a filter of Finnish melancholic atmospheres, folk melodies and instrumental prowess accompanied by a brilliant sound. “Beyond The Dark Sun” is a good song to start with but it’s not on the same level with the rest of the material, still, the melodic guitar festivities and galloping drums make it a pretty effective appetizer. “Winter Madness” follows in a more folksier vibe, the high scale of guitar and drum acrobatics on this track dazzle more and more with the track’s each passing second, my god what a performance, the sooner Jari gets a full line-up to play this cracker the better, this one is sure to shred live (even if they chose to go with the cheap keyboards).
“Sleeping Stars” and “Death And The Healing” pulls the mood into a more film score and depressed colour, every time I hear the first mentioned track I keep picturing a sleepover involving RHAPSODY and NIGHTWISH, then add the Extreme Metal backbone and bang, you have a mesmerising tune for many winters to come.
The last two tracks are my favourites. The anger and motivation behind “Beautiful Death” is something that’s definitely worth hearing, a chilling snowstorm of Black Metal atmospheres, killer riffing and melodies and propelling blast beats that freezes even the hottest of summers. “Sadness And Hate” ends with a more farewell feeling, the outro is the best closure this album could’ve had as the keyboards paint the winter sunset fading out from the horizon far.
I wasn’t going to check this album, this genre has had me depleted for a while, but WINTERSUN managed to pull me back in and I’m glad it did. Bless you Jari Mäenpää, may the present winter inspire you to write another epic for the coming year, don’t keep us waiting too long. (Online December 4, 2004)