Album: The Forest Seasons
Release Date: 21st July, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Review by Sean
This album is four tracks long, but clocks in at around 55 minutes long. Yep, it’s Wintersun time. Bring it on.
For the uninitiated, Wintersun are a Finnish group that blend elements of power metal, folk metal, and black metal together into one. It shouldn’t work. It doesn’t work. Except with Wintersun, it does. Seriously, go give some of their stuff a listen, I’ll wait.
You’re back and want more? Good, then read on. Each track on ‘The Forest Seasons’ is based on a season, so track one is Spring, then Summer, yadda yadda. You get it. The first track is titled ‘Awaken From The Dark Slumber’, and instantly you can hear the three types of music I listed earlier blending as one to craft something special. There are those that might feel a little short changed after the incredible wait for ‘Time I’ to then have to wait five years to get this album, but for what it’s worth, I like this album. It’s still the quinessential Wintersun sound, it still caters to multiple fans of multiple types of metal, and it continues the trend of having longer songs that tell a story.
If it helps you “normalise” things, two of the four tracks on the album are in “parts”. ‘Awaken…’ has two parts to it, Part I’s ‘The Dark Slumber’ and Part II’s ‘The Awakening’. But to separate this track would be ridiculous, as it flows just fine, and while I’ll freely admit it’s been a while since I listened to some heavier stuff, I can’t deny this track alone put me right back in that place of wanting the heavier more extreme stuff.
‘The Forest That Weeps’ is our Summer song, and is only in one part, but still clocks in at a mighty 12 minutes and change long. I quite like how this one starts off, almost ethereal sounding melodies until the crushing electric instruments kick in and the drums start battering your face off. It strikes me, listening to this track, that a tour with Swedish folk/black metal band Månegarm would be fucking insane, and I would happily pay over the odds to see it. I’d even travel down to London to see it, and that’s saying something.
I digress, but honestly, there’s not much to say about the album here. It’s Wintersun. There’s a cracking folky bit towards the middle of the song that breaks things up nicely before things get heavier again to kick off the second half of the song, though the folk melody that was playing continues, albeit through electric guitar now, and if this doesn’t get people folk dancing in the pit, nothing will.
‘Eternal Darkness’ is our Autumn song, and is actually split up into four “parts”. Part I is ‘Haunting Darkness’, II is ‘The Call of the Dark Dream’, III is ‘Beyond the Infinite Universe’, and finally IV is ‘Death’. I’ll admit, this is probably the weak point of the album, for me. Just the drum sound alone near the start when the song gets going is a bit… well shit, if I’m honest. It sounds woefully underproduced and just all manner of wrong. If Lars Ulrich ever attempted black metal… Yeah. Like that. I wouldn’t mind, but the drums literally don’t stop. They barely change, and they’re just fucking relentless. It’s like when you have a headache that just won’t go away, and it really stifled my enjoyment of this track.
Thankfully, roughly halfway through the track, the drums do change up a bit, and the song instantly becomes better. It’s amazing what can happen if you just stop for a second, isn’t it? Honestly, if there’s one criticism over this album I do have, it’d be to cut that entire first part, because God damn was it awful. The rest of it though, almost makes up for it, almost, but then the final part brings back the headache inducing drums, and it just all falls apart again. Must try harder.
Finally, we come to the Winter track, album closer, ‘Loneliness’, complete with forlorn sounding intro, and then even when the band all joins in, it still sounds forlorn, lost, indeed lonely. It ends the album on such a down note, and is the main reason I said I quite liked this album earlier on. This is the black metal I signed up for. Admittedly, it soon stops being black metal and starts sounding more symphonic, but I’ll take what I can get when faced with the previous song. If I had to pick a favourite, and I do, it’s between the first and last track, but this one pips it. Like I said, it’s such a downer of a song, and downer is where I live, so I’m all about it.
On the whole, it’s an alright album. It’ll tide you over for the decade until we get Time II, but it’s far from being what Time I was.
1. Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring)
Part I: The Dark Slumber
Part II: The Awakening
2. The Forest That Weeps (Summer)
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
4. Loneliness (Winter)
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/wintersun
Get the album here: nuclearblast.com/wintersun-tfs