It’s been 8 years since Wintersun released their debut. I am not going to rehash the history, because if you are reading this, you probably already know it. Time Vol. 1 (with volume 2 supposedly a couple of months away) is the sophomore effort from Jari, the former Ensiferum frontman’s own band. Eight years is a long time, so expectations were essentially through the roof for this album across the Metal world. Anything less than exceptional would be unacceptable. So how did Wintersun do?
Time is complex, dense, and far too short. There is goodness here, but there are also some unmet expectations for me, particularly with respect to a reduced amount of aggressiveness I expected, based on the album Wintersun. This shouldn’t be a comparative review with that album, considering the temporal distance between the two, but it is the same band and Jari Mäenpää is still the main guy here and comparisons are inevitable. The album is listed as having 5 songs, but it really comes across as three really long tunes, an introduction and a short interlude. The first song, essentially an intro, is 5 minutes long – it builds and recedes and builds again. Way too long though. The next tune, Sons of Winter and Stars, is gargantuan, epic and excellent – but it doesn’t touch the first two songs on the debut, nor my favorite by the band, Battle Against Time. I think a lot of the problem is how far in the background the metal instruments are mixed compared to the orchestrations. It just isn’t that heavy consistently enough.
No doubt that the entire work has been meticulously planned and executed. As a fan of Progressive, Power and Folk Metal, this album has elements from all three that I love. Even the Asian/Japanese influence is incorporated and executed flawlessly – I was a little worried that it wouldn’t work. It’s just a little overblown and it feels like the band is too full of itself at times. I appreciate the songwriting and musicianship, and Time is chock full of exemplary examples of both. Whereas songs like Beyond the Dark Sun on the debut were far too short, the songs here drag on at times (Land of Snow and Sorrow), forcing me to really listen and not be distracted.
The album has been out for a little over a week so I have taken the opportunity to really listen to it. It is a beautiful work and I have enjoyed it, but it isn’t quite what I expected. I like the album, but I don’t love it. I hope that Volume 2 is more aggressive, faster, and more Metal.
I hear the sound in a METAL way.