Wintersun
The Forest Seasons

Has there been a more hyped yet un-prolific and bloated project as Wintersun, Jari Mäenpää’s much ballyhooed, post Ensiferum project? After 2004s Lauded self titled debut there were deleted files and then an 8 year wait for Time I, which ultimately was a huge let down after the wait and the hype. So now we have a 5 year wait, a ridiculous crowdfunding/kickstarter campaign, and yet more ravenous hype. But I’m afraid to report while better than Time I, it’s much the same as Time I, where the hype is simply not matched by the outcome.

Much like Time I, The Forest Seasons (or is it Time II?) is a four song (all over 12 -14 minutes) over bloated affair with a few good moments and 1 really good song. It’s stunningly and completely over produced with some at times gorgeous synths/orchestration/choirs and teases with some truly epic moments but at the same time can be utterly boring. The four season themed songs are broken down into parts, but they really don’t separate themselves within the songs.

First up is “Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring)”, which, for 7 or so minutes is a completely forgettable mid paced number that makes no impression whatsoever as an album opener. But it does pick up and perk up with some lovely orchestration, a great chorus and some very Borknagar/Øystein Brun styled riffage. It only serves to tease how tantalizingly good these guys can be when they are ‘on’.

Second song,  the more somber “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)” follows suite from the opener, but is a bit better. It again imbues some classic ICS Vortex Era Borknagar, takes a while to get going and only delivers around its last half or third, again with a really nice chorus and solid mid paced march. But a mid song break sort of lulls the tracks alluring choirs, it screams for an epic crescendo and climax, but it never comes (I can hear you all saying ‘that’s what she said’).   “Eternal Darkness (Autumn)” is initially the album’s only track that hearkens back to the band’s debut in terms of blistering melody and grandiosity. It’s this album’s “Sons of Winter and Stars” from Time I. It has a nice operatic undercurrent and a great pace, again with very nice female choirs, serving to show what Mäenpää is capable of.

I’d hoped that closer “Loneliness (Winter)” would build on the prior track’s almost redeeming qualities, but alas, it’s a complete snoozer. I get the season of winter is about death and dying, but its a meandering, 13 minutes, slow track with some ill conceived clean singing. Rather than end the album on a rousing, epic end note, it serves to remind you how frustrating Wintersun ultimately are, and with these long songs, basically a 4th of the album is a throwaway track.

I’m not piling on with the Jari Mäenpää haters here, as this isn’t quite the let down Time I was,  but if I had donated to the release (while they were on a label no less) , I’d want my money back. But Jari Mäenpää and Nuclear Blast know they have somehow tapped into this larger than life musical entity that seems to generate inordinate amounts of hype, regardless of the musical output. So I’m sure in another 5-8 years there will be more hype, more drama and another fair to middling or underwhelming album while Mäenpää and Nuclear Blast rub their hands gleefully.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
July 24th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: shane wolfensberger

    And where are the freaking solos!? I mean jesus christ Jari you’ve got 14 minute songs and there’s no guitar wizardry like the debut. Pathetic.


  2. Commented by: emperorj

    The debut was fine first few listens, but I grew tired of it. Never bothered to hear Time and won’t bother to hear this one either.


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