Released: 2004, Nuclear Blast/Sound Pollution
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Wintersun comes from the land of the thousand lakes where the winters are long and cold. In other words, they hail from my neighbor country Finland. But I should add that we have some terribly cold winters here in Sweden too.
Multi-instrumentalist Jari Mäenpä is the frontman and founder of Wintersun after having recently left Ensiferum to start up this new band. Mäenpä does most of the creative things on this eight track album. He sings, plays guitar and bass, does the programming and writes all the music and lyrics. The band biography says that the lyrics are gleaned from Mäenpä’s life, feelings, emotions, hallucinations and dreams.
Mäenpä recruited Kai Hahto from the Finnish grindcore/death metal act Rotten Sound to play drums, which means Mäenpä hasn’t resorted to using the terrible thing called a drum machine. I don’t EVER think it’s OK to use a drum machine when you’re a metal or hard rock band! Hahto contributes with a very heavy and distinct drum sound and he takes the music to a higher level. Mäenpä is a genius both on guitar and behind the mic. Vocally he manages to sing everything from clean to death vocals and something I would call viking-like chants.
I don’t know when or where this debut album was recorded, but for once the album cover suits the music. Necrolord has done a cover that really reflects Wintersun’s music and it really shows where their coming from.
The band bio calls this melodic death metal with influences from folk and Scandinavian traditional music. I totally agree with that description, but I would add that the focus lies more on the melodic death metal element than on the whole Scandinavian thing.
The well-written songs are full of tempo changes combined with some really heavy guitar riffs. The album’s slower moments are when the folky Scandinavian influences shine through the most. Vocally Mäenpä sounds terrific and he gets some help through the choruses by some heavy choirs.
Even if Wintersun has some Scandinavian folk music in their songs they don’t let that take over, which is a really positive thing. You could compare their sound to another Finnish band, Turisas, who totally get out of line with their Scandinavian/Finnish battle metal.
Wintersun sounds pretty good and they have created a solid debut album. All eight tracks are high class, but the songs that stands out a bit more are “Beyond The Dark Sun”, “Winter Madness”; “Battle Against Time” and “Starchild”. Wintersun is a band worth checking out if you’re into the early Amorphis, Children of Bodom, Finntroll or Ensiferum. As Right now Jari and Kai are searching for new members to Wintersun so they can hit the roads later this year.