Wintersun - The Forest Seasons

Wintersun - The Forest Seasons

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(CD/LP, Nuclear Blast, 2017)

The internet has become such a terrible place, especially when it comes to music. Sure, one can quickly get informed for any concert and upcoming events, but sadly this is the only positive thing I have to say about it. The online fast-as-a-shark commenting without thinking much and the way everyone believes his opinion is the only truth, have managed to take away some of the mystery and the anticipation which used to fuel a metalhead’s love for this music. The creation of the new WINTERSUN album, “The Forest Seasons”, has been the subject of countless of online arguments / discussions / rants for every reason one can think of. Of course, the elephant in the room is Jari’s decision to put together a crowd funding campaign to support the making of this album, something many consider as an anathema, but the bottom line is if you don’t like it, don’t support it and this is where I put a full-stop on this debate. I managed to keep my eyes away from all this online drama, so my enthusiasm of getting my hands on the “The Forest Seasons” LP was skyrocketing.

Following the concept of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, the album features four parts representing the different seasons as experienced by a forest which is basically a living entity. The concept may sound naïve at first, but if you know WINTERSUN, then you bet there are deeper / hidden meanings and different interpretations based on the listener’s way of thinking and how he perceives the concept of the cycle of life. And that was enough to get me hooked since to my mind these aspects are translated into more working hours than the ones spent during the songwriting and song recording sessions. It is also nice to remember from time to time to listen to music not only with your ears but with you heart and mind too. The album starts with “Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)” in a mellow kind of way representing how everything wakes up after having survived Winter. There are many layers on the song’s structure feeding the epic atmosphere that takes a step forward the moment the almost grunting singing enters. Yeah, this is WINTERSUN alright but if you were to compare it with “Time I” (really you shouldn’t), then you’ll see a heavier and darker album contrary to the Spring-themed track. The song is divided in two parts with the first being the slumber just after Winter, so this is why it sounds darker and in a sense more aggressive. And then, the awakening part comes with an amazing goosebumps-inducing riff to put the word epic in the boldest of fonts. The orchestrations scream WINTERSUN from miles away, while the galloping groove sounds like a tailored suit to the opening lyrics of the second part: “from the realms below we ride”. It is not very common to get interested in the lyrics, especially in a thick song structure as this epos has but when this happens I get totally hooked.

The first “fuck yeah” moment happened during the first and barely scratching the surface album spins with the 12-minutes long “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)”. First of all, one cannot but get shivers down his spine listening to the pounding drums and that specific repetitive riff which reminded me of BATHORY’s epic “Hammerheart” era. The vocals are cleaner here and closer to the previous WINTERSUN LP but the amazing(-er) happens somewhere at the middle of the song; everything slows down with a riff being in the repeat (there are some variations going on) and soon enough switching to guitar in the most epic way before turning the switch into headbanging mode. Yeah, I challenge you not to crank the volume up during the galloping part with the same riff going on and on - awesome! The mood is changing just like the seasons do, so expect things to get heavier and darker for the last two parts of the album. There is an almost Black Metal feeling on the guitars that gets even more highlighted with the snare-drum action where the multiple orchestration may leave a DIMMU BORGIR taste in your mouth. You see, it is time for Winter to reclaim the land and even though Autumn is a beautiful and colorful season (at least at some parts of the world) it is also the beginning of the end. There are growling backing vocals, fast tempos but still the WINTERSUN mark remains intact and easily identified (those orchestrations do this). There is some serious guitar solo action here, so don’t get comfortable during the slower break. The underdog of the album is the closing song dedicated to Winter, “Loneliness (Winter)”. This one starts with one of the saddest melodies I’ve heard since a long time ago. The way it crawls under your skin from the beginning is haunting and at the same beautiful. Jari’s performance on this song is the best he has done with WINTERSUN, mixing feelings of despair, sadness and maybe a hint of atonement closer to the end. After all, there can be no Spring without Winter as there can be no life without death...

This is not an easy to digest album and, in fact, it would be totally unfair to fast-food­ ­listen to it. Take your time and start peeling all those layers Jari has put together and at some point turn your attention to the lyrics to get the whole picture and start enjoying the album as a complete entity. Listening to the album using high quality headphones is strongly advised before getting this beauty to open spaces using your format of choice (I am extremely excited to see how the vinyl will behave).

“Washed away by the frozen stars
Feel the burning coldness of the falling snow
And one day when everything is gone
The trail in the snow disappears, am I finally home”

10/10


Links:

www.Wintersun.Fi
www.MySpace.Com/Wintersun
www.FaceBook.Com/Wintersun
www.Twitter.Com/Wintersun


Tracklist:

01. Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)
02. The Forest That Weeps (Summer)
03. Eternal Darkness (Autumn)
04. Loneliness (Winter)


Lineup:

Jari Mäenpää - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Programming, Keyboards, Samples
Teemu Mäntysaari - Backing Vocals
Jukka Koskinen - Backing Vocals
Kai Hahto - Drums