Monday, 7 June 2010

CD Review: Wintersun, by Wintersun (2004)

Jari Maenpaa can never be accused of a lack of ambition. He started Wintersun as a side project while still with Ensiferum; he subsequently wrote all the songs, played all the instruments except the drums, and delivered the vocals on this debut CD. And he also produced.

The scope of his ambition is reflected in each of his compositions: every track aims to be a long, sprawling epic. Maenpaa has nothing that can be described as short, sharp and focused. Intros and outros last for minutes apiece, various melodies come and go, the guitars and keyboards intertwine in endless exchanges, and various shredding solos get dropped almost nonchalantly and at will.

Remarkably, a lot of it works. What Wintersun gives up in immediate catchiness it gains back in creativity, complexity and inventiveness. Each track is an adventure to be experienced and a new world to be savoured and explored. But it is also true that most of the tracks mix in good moments with bland interludes; even on the best tracks like Winter Madness and Beautiful Death, brilliant passages are too often diluted with many forgettable minutes. It's the price that Wintersun pays for eschewing the simple.

It is all delivered with accuracy and at a powerful and confident mid-tempo speed. There is a most appropriate feeling of heroic despair throughout the CD: Maenpaa will do things his way, and will sometimes fail and at other times succeed, either way on his own terms.


Jari Maenpaa - Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Kai Hahto - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Beyond The Dark Sun - 8
2. Winter Madness - 9
3. Sleeping Stars - 7
4. Battle Against Time - 8
5. Death And The Healing - 7
6. Starchild - 7
7. Beautiful Death - 9
8. Sadness And Hate - 8

Average: 7.88

Produced by Jari Maenpaa.
Recorded by Ahti Kortelainen and Tuomo Valtonen.
Mixed by Nino Laurenne. Mastered by Mika Jussila.

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