Sound — 10
Epic, Majestic, Powerful... all adjectives which describe the self-titled first release from this Finnish musical wizard, Jari Maenpaa. This album features a high level of musicianship in all instruments, from the insane guitar solo of 'Winter Madness' to keyboard passages and the constant high level of drumming from Kai Hahto (also of Rotten Sound). This album was performed almost entirely by Jari himself, apart from the aforementioned drums. His level of skill on all of the instruments involved is staggering, and to maintain this skill over material written over a 10 year period while performing in another band (Ensiferum) is impressive. The one downside to the album, in my opinion is the lack of solos on ALL of the songs, and the shortness of the first track ('Beyond the Dark Sun'). Otherwise, this album attains near perfection.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics of these songs are very personal to Jari, for example he deals with his struggles with TB in one of them. The songs all follow a similar theme, fairly melancholic and icy, very fitting to the band name and the concept of the album and it's (rather splendid) cover. The skill with which Jari sings in this album could hardly be found lacking, as he performs both high and low screams with as much ease as he sings the clean passages (especially on 'Death and the Healing'). Although this type of singing is not for everyone, it fits the music perfectly, and to be honest, if you have delved deeply enough into metal to find Wintersun, you can hardly complain about the screams.
Overall Impression — 10
Wintersun has, typically, been compared to other Finnish bands of similar ilk; Ensiferum, Kalmah, Children of Bodom etc, yet it does not really match up to any of them. This music does not really fit into any of the usual sub-genres (without obscene ammounts of slashes) but it seems to skim the best parts of all of these other genres. The most impressive songs are 'Sleeping Stars', 'Death and the Healing' and 'Starchild'. If I were to lose this album, I would definitely buy it again, as it is one of the most frequently played albums in my collection.