Sound — 7
Well, here we have it the most aptly-named album in history is finally with us. Cast your mind back to how old you were when "Time" was supposed to be released, or even further back to when Jari Mäenpää first unveiled his Wintersun project. The former Ensiferum frontman has been holed up for over seven years preparing his bombastic metal symphony, obsessing over every detail and no doubt tearing his long locks out over it. Taking that kind of time may seem like a luxury at first but the personnel problems, technology failures and endless rewrites that caused the huge delays have no doubt made the process extremely laborious. What this does ensure is that everything is polished to perfection. The melodic vocals, melodic strings, melodic leads and occasionally heavy rhythms are all fine-tuned and firing on all cylinders from a production perspective. The hugely ambitious orchestral arrangements are not just integrated; they take the lead in everything that the album does. The album's greatest strength is its use of the orchestra as a real means of expression, where so many metal artists only wheel it out as a cheap shortcut to an epic' sound. Unfortunately this does mean that the guitars take a back seat, and Mäenpää's folksy melodic style doesn't always lend itself to such a spotless and sanitized sound. When the guitars do take centre stage, at times during "Sons Of Winter And Stars" and "Time", the impact is rather softened by the mix, like a YouTube guitar player doing a metal version of his favourite RPG soundtrack. The music isn't a million miles away either.
Lyrics — 7
There is an innate cheesiness to fantastical lyric writing, and nobody demonstrates that better than Jari if past work is anything to go by. Ensiferum have always been full of symbolism and the Wintersun debut was a rather melancholy affair, wrapped in swathes of frost, stars and other glitter. "Sons Of Winter And Stars" is a real bore, trudging through endless clichés ("The energy flows in me like a river of stars/I'm surrounded by the circle of fire, but eternal ice has frozen my heart") but elsewhere the personal content is at least less dressed up. Considering the audience is looking to be excited rather than engaged emotionally, the lofty language does its job well enough, and the voice screaming "TIME!", "FIRE!" or occasionally "SPACE!" still gets the message across.
Overall Impression — 7
At this late stage "Time I" can only look and sound how we all knew it would and convince fans that it was worth the wait - both are forgone conclusions. If you're into grand, folky, melodic metal and somehow haven't heard about Wintersun already then this comes highly recommended; if you're not then this won't do a lot for you; if you're already a Wintersun fan then, let's be honest, you're already waiting for "Time II", which comes out next year. Let's hope all goes according to plan this time.