Wintersun are receiving a great deal of publicity at the moment and to be fair the hype is very much justified. Formed by Finnish musician Jari Mäenpää, the band weave elements of Folk Metal and Symphonic Metal to form a huge sound. Thier debut LP in 2004 was a self-titled epic and received well-deserved acclaim from the Metal fraternity. As a musician, Mäenpää is a perfectionist and to that end, it was to be 8 years before the band released their next LP Time I. Although fans were hankering after a new material long before the release, again Time I was once more an epic platter.
Fast forward to 2017 and despite fans being told Time II was in the offing it was not to be and the band have announced “the Forest Seasons” as a follow-up. There are many rumours surrounding why this is the new LP but there is one thing for certain On 1 March 2017 the band started a crowdsourcing campaign on the Indiegogo platform, the first of three projected campaigns, aiming to raise funds for their own studio. The first campaign was successful, surpassing the minimum objective of 150.000 euro in a single day, and raising 464.330 euro in total (source: Wikipedia).
So how does “The Forest Seasons” stack up as an interim to the long awaited and hopefully to emerge “Time II”.
The LP is clearly nodding its head to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but that is where the link really gets severed as this is in no way a metal re-work. Split into for 4 lengthy epics Jari describes them thus:
The album has four epic and monumental songs, all very different, but still merging together perfectly like the season changes. Two of the songs, ‘Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)’ and ‘Eternal Darkness (Autumn)’ are multipart songs like ‘Starchild’ and ‘Sons of Winter and Stars’.
AWAKEN FROM THE DARK SLUMBER (SPRING)
‘Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)’ is the starting track. It’s a very energetic song illustrating the awakening of nature and it will build up to a big climax! (This song has this album’s “killer riff”… forest style!)
THE FOREST THAT WEEPS (SUMMER)
‘The Forest That Weeps (Summer)’ is the summer song. It’s atmospheric, melodic and rockin’! It’s also enhanced with big choirs celebrating the end of summer, before the autumn darkness takes over.
ETERNAL DARKNESS (AUTUMN)
‘Eternal Darkness (Autumn)’ is the darkest WINTERSUN track to date! It paints a dark mood illustrating the Finnish autumn, when you hardly see any sun at all. But ultimately the song is about death… with a twist that some of the parts are written from death’s point of view and how IT sees life… as a mistake in the universe. It’s an epic and long four part song describing four phases of dying.
I’m really proud of all the songs, but especially the last song called ‘Loneliness (Winter)’ is what I’m really proud of. I really hit it out of the ballpark with this one, even if I do say so myself. It’s a little like ‘Silver Leaves’ (on »Time II«), but a more sorrowful and darker song with a really cold winterish vibe where as ‘Silver Leaves’ is more beautiful, oriental, atmospheric.
As one listens to the LP you get a real feel for what Jari was trying to achieve and for the most part the LP delivers. It’s just that it feels like an interim LP and not what we were expecting from Time II. The songs are immense and reading Jari’s descriptions alongside as you listen it makes perfect sense. This will certainly please the hardcore Wintersun fans and will gather them new fans that have just been awakened to the genre of Folk-Metal, but I will say that we really need to wait for the next release to see the full potential of the new studio and Wintersun combined.
Review By Mark Ellis.