“Wintersun – The Forest Seasons” A Review written by someone from the Internet
It’s been approximately this many years since the last time Wintersun did a thing. Finally, after another several heliocentric orbits of setbacks, delays, excuses and a frustrated record label, a thing from Wintersun has finally arrived again finally.
When the last thing came out, it was supposed to be this whole thing, but was instead, half of a thing. Since that thing was not a whole thing, fans were eagerly anticipating the other half of the thing. This was not possible — so stated the band’s creative ultra power mega force riff generating ego, Jari Mäenpää — without having his very own full-size house to live and record in, built custom just for him. So, instead of the other half of the prior thing we were expecting, in an effort to fund his new ultra-studio-sauna with lots of dollars and money, fans were offered something entirely separate and all its own instead: a different thing.
Enter, The Forest Seasons! Wintersun’s long-awaited, latest foray in the releasing of albums game. Hype has certainly been generated sufficiently for this album, in no small part to the many documentaries, videos and not the least of which YouTubes related to the now infamous crowdfunding fiasco. A crowdfunding fiasco that ended up being wildly successful — so not really a fiasco at all I guess– despite what many deemed to be an asking price of too many Europe dollars as the only way to contribute to the band and get something in return.
Now, it’s important to note here that lots of bands make music without having their fans buy them a house. I know this because I know at least one person in a band whose band didn’t need a new house to make an album. So the question ultimately to consider here manages to remain: Does a band need a house to make an album? Let’s find out:
The theme of Forest Seasons at first glance seems self explanatory. Like other concept albums that one has listened to prior, this album too, indeed, has a concept. For every major season (as opposed to the various microtones we must acknowledge between seasons) there is a song on The Forest Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and of course, my favorite time of the year, Winter Acoustic. In a way, this album is often likened to Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, a famous piece featuring Judge Reinhold where Beethoven gets confused with a similar looking Saint Bernard from a richer family.
The opening track, Awaken From the Dark Slumber (Spring) touches on concepts of rebirth and life anew after death. The closing track, Loneliness (Winter) laments over facing that death once again. In order to truly enjoy The Forest Seasons as intended, one must listen to the album on continuous repeat until you’re dead and possibly reincarnated to hear it more. Unless someone exists within such an everflowing cycle of The Forest Seasons as I do, they simply cannot comprehend its breadth as an experience enough to give it a mediocre review.
The Forest Seasons opens with multi-layered symphonics, a style for which Wintersun made a name for themselves in their previous half-thing. As I write the phrase “symphonics” out in Microsoft Word, I am immediately informed it is a typo. A sense of dark dread overwhelms me, much the same as the melancholy vibe felt when hearing the track Eternal Darkness (Autumn). An inescapable panic that I may reveal myself to readers as a music writer who doesn’t know the correct names for various musical terms. I digress, the orchestrationals and synthesizes remain a consistent backdrop to the gargantuan production of this production, as well as whatever it’s called where a lot of singers are together in a church, without bordering on the distasteful or garish. The common animal sound effects contribute a unique contextual element to Forest Seasons as well, as I often find that animals generally tend to live in a forest. Guitars that you don’t plug in can be enjoyed here, as well as guitars you can most certainly plug in.
A disappointing lack of solos is made up for with visceral, cerebral, ostentatious, melodramatic, pulchritudinous riffage courtesy of riffsters, Jari Mäenpää and Teemu Mäntysaari. These axemen take us on a melodic nature walk down a beaten path of pure shred, signing their nefarious time signatures with pizzazz that would make John Han’s Cock go limp with envy. While heavily influenced by Mäenpää’s epic folk metal roots, The Forest Seasons is frequently reviewed as having a stronger black metal element to its song structures. I would say this is more in the vein of symphonic black metal acts such as Dimmu Borgir or Carach Angren. I’m not saying Carach Angren is black metal though, just that they wear corpse paint and they say they are black metal and they probably are. Carach Angren and Wintersun are not black metal bands, they just sound a lot like them. What I’m trying to say is that the new Wintersun album is definitely screamo.
The absent blazing fire fingerwork of Wintersun past however, isn’t the only disappointment of The Forest Seasons. I’m also disappointed because of the mental gymnastics I have to do to convince myself of this album as a let-down given the context in which it was released. In my endless lust for the second half of the last thing, I have convinced myself that Wintersun released The Forest Seasons as an appetizer. This album is not the meatball dish I requested. The sticks of Forest Season’s majestic trees are but of the parmesan bread variety, something to tide over my insatiable hunger for the sonic spaghetti splendor that has yet to be placed before me.
I sat across from her in a swanky, dimlit bar in a hip downtown area. I invited her to meet me there in some desperate attempt to seem more with it than I ever could be. I would not break my gaze upon her, for given my company, I simply couldn’t. It was a gaze she bashfully avoided sharing with me nonetheless.
“You haven’t touched your drink” I pointed out.
She daintily placed her fingertips on the stem of her wine glass to keep up appearances. “I just like to take my time with my drink.” She replied meekly.
“You’re beautiful.” The words escaped my lips without much thought. I didn’t know if I really meant it, I don’t know if I could say she met the standards of Hollywood beauty. But there was something about her flair, her style. Something that drew my eyes to her. Something endearing that I couldn’t deny. Her head turned beat red. I know she needed to hear it.
“Shut up, you’re lying!” She cooed with a soft smile. “So many people have said so many mean things about me already on the internet. You’d be stupid not to agree with them.”
“I don’t care what they think…” I took her hand from her wine glass and into my own. “You’re so clear, so sharp, so concise. Your prominence in the mix sits exactly where it’s meant to.”
“Tell that to Metal Injection… “ Kai’s snare drum retorted with a sigh.
I grabbed her drum head and brought it close to my face. “Those troglodytes wouldn’t know a sample if it was programmed on their own crusty, four-generations-old Macbooks. I don’t care what anyone else says. You’re beautiful. You’re a beautiful snare sound and I love you. You are raw, and real and genuine. You’re good and pure. You deserve to be loved and appreciated for who you are.”
The bass on the album, however, leaves something to be desired.
I give this album a strong 4 out of 5 synthesizes.
The Forest Seasons is available 7/21 via Nuclear Blast and can be ordered here.