By Ola Mazzuca
Like a stir-fry in a wok, sizzling with a blend of vegetables, chicken and noodles, Time I is an almost seamless approach to the perfect takeout combo. It’s just missing one thing: a hint of soy sauce. Wintersun mirror this Chinese dish in elements of their second full-length release, from composition to genre sampling. All of the ingredients are applied in a clever manner and are derived from the foundation of melodic metal.
The opener, “When Time Fades Away,” is a beautiful instrumental piece, depicting cherry blossoms in a tranquil setting, against bright tones of Erhu and grandiose synth. What follows is the epic 13-minute “Sons of Winter and Stars.” The track gleams with progressive technique as it is divided in four parts, like a concept within a song. Stars, darkness, dreams, snow and wind are pivotal words in each verse. Jari Ma?enpa?a? utilizes his talent repertoire to its full potential, making smooth transitions between abrasive gutturals and clean, heroic proclamations in each chorus. But the vocalist worries more about his voice, for he is also a guitarist that tackles the “computer” and keyboard programming. No, Maenpaa doesn’t work in IT when Wintersun is off tour, but he sure knows how to multitask.
As the pace of Time I shifts, “Land of Snow and Sorrow” is a melancholic Himalayan aural sojourn led by the precise tremolo and chug of guitarist Teemu Ma?ntysaari. The album’s prelude to closure, “Darkness and Frost,” has graceful tones reflective of Baroque elements. It’s cold, stark, yet highly emotive in its progressive flow.
Although Time I lacks soy sauce, it doesn’t get soggy. It’s not out of its container, left for expiration. But at five tracks, this record crams in too many elements and genres at once. Separate a few, with more focus, and there would still be a concept. Without the soy sauce Wintersun need, Time I is not seamless. But like vegetables in a good stir fry, their talent is fresh and inviting. This band has been harvested to think outside the box, even if it means adding a little Hoisin.