The Forest Seasons: Wintersun

Rating: 85%

WintersunForestSeasonsFive years after the last album was released, “The Forest Seasons” was released in 2017. And since it’s release in July, there has been many voicing some strong opinions whether they like this album or not. Many say that the songs are way too long, while others are attacking it because the band had to start a Crowdfunding Campaign in order to pay for the recording sessions due to Nuclar Blast’s not giving out enough studio time. Whether or not that was a scam, I don’t know. Either way, we now have a third album by Wintersun, with others that may soon to follow, depending on the funding.

So, we have the very talented song writer and instrumentalist Jari Mäenpää who plays most of the lead vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and synthesizers. He also is credited with writing the orchestrations. So, I get it, Jari Mäenpää is and can be a one man band in the studio. That is what makes him so fucking talented and imaginative. You also have Teemu Mäntysaari and Jukka Koskinen on backing vocals.

Musically, this album fuses several genres of Heavy Metal with Orchestra along with Classical elements thrown in. This is what makes Symphonic Black Metal sound good. To others it makes the sound watered down. It does have a very Epic Metal feeling to it along with a small dash of Power Metal and Folk Metal thrown into it. It’s almost to the point where the Black Metal is washed away. But, that doesn’t really take away from the over all sound which to me is very powerful, but polished. The music itself is very clean, full, rich, and meaty. The melodies are very interesting, but can be at times, shapeless and plain. There seems to be lack of outstanding riffs, but the leads are very good. I do like the drumming and the bass seems to be well in front. The lyrical themes seem to center around the forest and the four seasons that it experiences. With regards to that, the song writing is inspiring, deep, and meaningful. 

The musicianship is outstanding. The instrumentation is very engaging. It’s like you don’t know whats around the corner until you are there. It’s well balanced between the Heavy Metal sections with the Orchestra and keyboards. To me, this is where the term “Epic” needs to come in. The instrumentation along with the music is exciting at times and atmospheric. But the long song lengths may take away from this to make the music plain and boring in parts. the vocals between the harsh and clean are about what you expect. The choirs are very big and beefy.  

Depending on what you like, you may dig this concept album. But keep in mind that there are as many that hate it, as there are who love it. Me, I like it.

Track listing:

1. “Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring)”
Part I: “The Dark Slumber”
Part II: “The Awakening” 14:40
2. “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)” 12:18
3. “Eternal Darkness (Autumn)”
Part I: “Haunting Darkness”
Part II: “The Call of the Dark Dream”
Part III: “Beyond the Infinite Universe”
Part IV: “Death” 14:08
4. “Loneliness (Winter)” 12:54

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The Alliance of the Kings: Ancient Bards

Rating: 85%

abardsIn 2010, Ancient Bards released their debut album “The Alliance of the Kings.” The band consisted of vocalist Sara Squadrani, keyboardist Daniele Mazza, guitarists Claudio Pietronik & Fabio Balducci, bassist Martino Garattoni and drummer Alessandro Carichini.

Musically, this album is packed full of epic material and with lots of meat. It’s full of Classical influences, choirs and symphony. It’s melodic, there’s harmony and contains some folk influences. This album is epic and full of adventure. It’s like the late 1990’s all over again when Symphonic Power Metal became popular. It has lots fast paced tempos from the double kick drums, guitar riffs, guitar leads, to the keyboards and bass lines. Structurally, the album has interludes, verses, bridges, choruses, outros and other cool fill ins. This album even has a folky ballad.

Vocally, Sara Squadrani is among the best of women vocalists in her genre. Her voice has plenty of range. Lyrically, this album has tons of well written epic songs that are excellently composed. This concept album tells the story of a sorcerer who is in search of a sword for ultimate power and those who are out to stop him.

Track listing:

1. “Prelude” 1:55
2. “The Birth of Evil” 5:31
3. “Four Magic Elements” 4:59
4. “Only the Brave” 6:15
5. “Frozen Mind” 7:24
6. “Nightfall in Icy Forest” 1:17
7. “Lode al Padre” 6:26
8. “Daltor the Dragonhunter” 8:42
9. “Farewell My Hero” 6:51
10. “Faithful to Destiny” 8:45