Sound — 10
Wintersun is the music of Jari Maenpaa, an experienced metal musician hailing from Finland. He was previously in a number of Finnish metal bands, including ArthemesiA, Cadacross, Immemorial, and Ensiferum. Ensiferum was where Jari achieved the majority of his success, and continued to stay with the band until Ensiferum interfered with Wintersun. Throughout all of these acts, the power metal theme has been prevalent, although Ensiferum is considered folk/viking metal. The genre of Wintersun is under debate, but Jari himself describes Wintersun as extreme majestic technical epic melodic metal. The specific sound of the music varies from song to song, ranging from brutal and edgy screaming with powerful guitar, bass, drums, and synth, to amazingly gentle vocals with long, moving instrumental portions, including everything in between. Jari's vocal style is somewhat complex. He can sing and scream equally well, but is very different from other bands of the same genre. He has a large vocal range, and his style is generally very deep and airy. His screaming isn't just shoving air through his vocal chords. It is still definitely screaming, but sounds more precise, and not as distorted. It's hard to explain, but if you compared it to, say, Children of Bodom, you'd know what I mean. Now, I can't really describe the album any further unless I go into some specific songs. I have chosen 5 of the 8 songs that I think take in every aspect of the album. Beyond The Dark Sun - the first song on this album is Beyond the Dark Sun. This song begins with an intense opening guitar portion, which moves into a full harmony with a second, equally complicated guitar part, as well as bass and drums. The vocals start off calm, with a speaking portion, almost like poetry, then moves into full on screaming. The song moves onto a mix of heavy rhythm guitar, and similar lead guitar to the intro. This intense song builds to a final climax at the very end. It is one of the more popular songs on the album, and it is the only one under 5 minutes in length. Death And The Healing - is a seven minute long song that I can only describe as epic. For starters, the most notable feature is that the song has no screaming. It is the only song without any screaming, in fact. The song is medium in speed, and begins with a smooth opening riff that remains a theme throughout the song. The verses are a prime example of Jari's vocal capabilities, and the chorus could probably be described as choral, and is reminiscent of Jari's days with Ensiferum. In between the two verses and the corresponding choruses are long guitar portions that share the theme of the opening riff. The whole song together totals to a 7 minute masterpiece. Starchild - is unique in this album partly because it is comprised of five parts, but it also has some of the most memorable synth portions on the record. The first part is the most intense, with screaming vocals and backup vocals that complement the lead. The song then both becomes more melodic, yet builds up to an epic finale. Beautiful Death - the second to last song on the album is Beautiful Death. It starts off with fairly generic power metal, and sound-wise the song isn't very notable until the final two minutes. This final stretch of the song is in my opinion one of the most memorable guitar solos ever conceived. It has a calm synth, with amazingly technical notes with brilliant tone and varying speed. I love this song just for that solo! Sadness And Hate - the final song of this introductory Wintersun album is a whopping 10 minutes long. It includes an interesting riff similar to that of Death and the Healing. Throughout the song it alternates between screaming and singing, with extended instrumental sections. The other three songs, "Winter Madness," "Battle Against Time," and "Sleeping Stars," are fairly generic to power metal, with a distinct Wintersun feel.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are very well thought out. They were formed over a nine year period between 1995 and 2004. They fit the songs brilliantly in my opinion. Nothing is out of style with the music. Vocally, Jari executes the lyrics extremely well, and recorded not only the lead vocals, but the backup vocals as well. Very well done all around.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this album is amazing. 10/10 all the way. Similar artists would be Children of Bodom and Norther. These two are both Finnish bands as well, with similar music, but heavier vocals than Wintersun. The most impressive songs on this album would have to be "Beyond the Dark Sun," and "Beautiful Death," although each song is great in it's own way. If I were to lose this album or if it were stolen, I would buy this album again in a heartbeat.