Melodic Death Metal

Wintersun – The Forest Seasons

Wintersun - The Forest Seasons Cover mp3Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons might be the album that has split most opinions in 2017. Their Indiegogo campaign raised 464 330 euros (!) to be spent on their new headquarters that’d allow them to reach their “true vision” in future releases. As the frontman/main composer Jari Mäenpää stated, expensive limited studio time is not ideal for the massive compositions he wants to make.

The Forest Seasons represents a rawer sound that they can reach without the top notch equipment that is planned for the eternally overdue Time II. In fact, The Forest Seasons is almost completely a bedroom recording. All instruments are recorded by Jari Mäenpää.

The only reward level of the campaign was 50 euros and the reward: The Forest Package. It includes a new album, master files + bonus track, isolated tracks of the new album, live album from Tuska 2013, First album remaster 2.0, Time I remaster 1.5, Time I master files + isolated tracks, booklets, wallpapers, photos & instrumentals.

Some have praised the album, some accused Jari Mäenpää of being a conman before even getting the rewards. The truth is still out there, but following the whole campaign from the start till the end; I appreciated the honesty that they portrayed in a making of documentary. It was a good long watch in itself (1h 25min), and obviously free in Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MscAKtZt80I.

The Forest Seasons currently stands at 56 % in Metal-archives (19 reviews). I would say this is not based on just the music.

Wintersun’s first record (2004) has a special place in my heart though it has not lasted time (no pun intended) as well as some of the melodeath albums of its … Wait for it … Time… I did not think the second album Time I (2012) was much more than alright, 7-8/10. A lot of people are accusing The Forest Seasons of having bad sounds which is so puzzling considering Time I symphonics are at worst near frigging Casio quality. At times they are great, but the base level is not what I was expecting. I can totally understand Jari wanting to have more a bombastic sound in the future.

What bothers me about The Forest Seasons

I already thanked Wintersun about their honesty BUT one has to acknowledge that they did manage to kind of conceal the fact that drums are actually programmed. They are not played by the drummer of the band Kai Hahto. Obviously they never stated anything other. The drums are luckily very well programmed. The drum sound does not bother me at all, just the fact that they weren’t openly expressing that Kai Hahto is not going to play the drums. He is a drummer a lot of people rave about after all and made a lot of appearances in the documentary. Including appearing in the booklet as a band member.

I personally feel some cheese in the lyrics could have been avoided. At times the folk/viking metal aesthetics sound out of place on an album that is strongly based on the elements and seasons. Wintersun’s phrase book of cliche fantasy literature elements could have been set a bit farther away. Clear cut example of this is the last 7 minutes of power metal and viking choirs in Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring). I enjoy the end nevertheless, it just could have been less of a cheesefest. As an undermining factor, I rarely enjoy power metal. On the other hand I find the sing-along choirs of The Forest That Weeps (Summer) totally irresistible.

On with the good stuff

In short, The Forest Seasons is a damn good album, which is all that should matter. First three tracks are packed with memorable melodies, good song-writing and fine sounding symphonics. I really like bombastic elements, so for me the symphonics are a bit too much on the background. The guitar sound could have also been more powerful at times, but it’s a minor concern except in the last track. There’s a fine amount of details and stuff happening but also a great sense of progression present. For example how the Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring) meanders to small climax on 4.30. Slows down and finally gets to the chorus at about 7 minute mark.

The Forest That Weeps (Summer) has a similar meandering progression, the chorus comes early but it’s still not as climactic as later in the track. Some details like “I saw the lakes that shimmer” with echoing/airy keyboard melodies create images powerfully. It’s actually stunning how the track turns melancholic in the end. It brilliantly portrays a familiar August melancholy when the summer is almost at an end. This might be the best track of 2017 & Wintersun discography.

The 3rd track Eternal Darkness (Autumn) surprises with straight to your face fierce black metallish tempo. I didn’t expect Jari, a composer known for his power metal antics, to pull off black metal so well. Also, a fitting last.fm comment about the god tier solo at about 8.20:
wintersunsolo

Not all of it is of my liking

Wintersun succeeded in black metal atmosphere but the last track Loneliness (Winter) does not succeed as a doom track as well. The atmosphere is mostly there but the track fails to resound my nerves. First explanation could be the main riff that is quite buried, and not that special. Heavy guitars are quite instrumental in creating, umm, heavy atmosphere. Now the guitars are just a backing track there. I listen to a lot of melancholic doom metal and I just don’t get the feels from Loneliness (Winter).

The 8 minute acoustic version that’s a bonus track in The Forest Package is a bit more compact and a better version too. The c-part before the final chorus with its emotional guitar leads and vocal harmonies nearly gives me chills. That’s a lot more than what the distorted version does. The acoustic guitar sound is a bit steely, I’ve heard better and more natural sounds, it is not a huge concern nevertheless.

Short sum up

Even with skipping the last track, which seems to have its fans, the album still has 41 minutes of material that I’d classify great. Can’t complain too much.

8+/10

10 Wintersun Forest Spirits Wallpaper

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Causemos – Infinite Event

How about a music quiz folks? Which band am I talking about:

The October of 2012 finally saw the comeback release of this Finnish epic melodic metal band. Their last release was dated at 2006, after setbacks and various other trouble they finally managed to get their new release out. And boy was it a blast. 

No I’m not talking about Wintersun, the band in question is Causemos. A melodic death metal band with plenty of bombastic a cosmic vibe. After waiting over half-decade for Wintersun to fill my melodic metal needs it was Causemos with their EP Infinite Event who did it, leaving the untimely epic of Wintersun drifting in space.

Infinite Event sees Causemos abandoning the Bal-Sagothisms that were visible on their early material and finding an own symphonic and technical sound. One the most surprising releases of 2012 packing fresh aggression, epic tunes, crunchy riffs and surprising technical mastery in a compact EP.

After the jaw-dropper beginning of Unrealized Reality 1|2, Infinite Event gallops on satisfyingly but lacks the utmost hookedelia and melodic-ecstasy that would take it to real masterclass. Until the fifth track Invariable blasts a top-notch melody and a memorable riff and keeps the intensity on the whole track. Fantastic. The catchiness of Herald and the wonderfully feisty and humorous Käteen escort the EP to a fine end. 24 minute length serves Infinite Event extremely well, very often I find myself tuning it right back in listening it twice in a row.

8½/10

Free download (pay what you want): http://causemos.bandcamp.com/

Ei oo leipääkään – Ei oo paskaakaan!

Synestesia – Nereus // NMMREM XVI

Synestesia is a Finnish melodic death metal band that was formed in 2001 and has been a long time coming but failed to break in to the surface. The predecessor of Nereus, Feenix was very well acclaimed critically, but it seems the band still stayed under. Alike Feenix, Nereus is a self-published free download album (that was also released in a small batch of cds). Immediately after tuning in, Nereus captivates with the amount of professionality. It is apparent that the band really know what they doing and have created an impressive and professional sounds for the record.

The first track Alku begins with a foghorn humming and the sounds of seagulls. Atmospheric ambient, then a piano melody. A great clicheic intro track with a notable melody. But just right. The next track Juurelle majakan did take multiple listens to open up. On first it passed me by nearly completely. Later it elevated as among my favourite tracks of the album. A very catchy chorus with a wonderfully epic background choir, melodic riff. I could imagine hearing this from the radio? Vocals are extremely raspy and the first glimpse of the rather wide growling range the vocalist has. I really dig that the lyrics can usually be imposed from the vocals without the need of reading them.

The next track Valo is a solid track with nice melodic riffing and raspy vocal goodness, but is a step down from Juurelle Majakan. It starts a quick downfall that continues with the title track Nereus and peaks in the 5th track “Murha?”. Murha? is probably the most experimental track of the record with a chugging riff and spoken vocals posing as an official announcement. The structure is interesting, but not captivating; the lyrics also bother me as they are not too interesting and quite clumsy.

The next track 274 askelmaa covers the downfall well. The lyrics are obscure as hell, I do not know what are these 274 steps and how they relate to anything but the song has a big emotion and atmosphere going on. Death/doom composition with an emotional quality and progressive touches makes this a clear highlight along with Juurelle Majakan. Also I do not know how Synestesia manages to pull it off but the emotional death/doom track finishes up with a memorable 70s progressive rock keyboard jam!

The album finds another low point with Hiljaisuus, which might actually work better for a listener not native Finnish as the lyrics are clicheic as fuck. The composition really has potential but repeating “niin kaunis on hiljaisuus” on and on again just takes the mat under this song.

Rest of the album isn’t that memorable in a good way or bad but solid 7/10 death metal with its minor peaks and low-points. Peaks include for example the raspy vocal performance of the vocalist, groovy riff of Kone pysähtyy and the end of Kuolleiden Kulkue which has another doom/death riff topped by piano and finally epic female vocals. It serves as a great outro for the album. It also brings in the question, what if Synestesia really made just Doom influenced metal in this style that they so well incorporate in small sections?

I believe the record may actually work better if you don’t get the lyrics as for me they aren’t that special and that is the biggest problem of the album. When listening in your native language; lyrics usually have to impress, but in Nereus they are rather obscure. It is supposed to be a concept album but even with reading the lyrics once, checking their internet site with some great thematic art (http://nereusprojekti.net/), and trying to think of the concept, it remains obscure. Maybe Valo and Nereus are some sort of propaganda tracks of the Nereus nation? Meaning the emotions are clicheic on purpose?

As a whole Nereus fails to captivate this picky listener, who nowadays mostly finds melodic death metal rather bland. There is no questioning however that Nereus has lots of diverse elements and originality and it does keep the listener entertained, especially on first listens.

For a listener who is really into melodic death metal or for the “Finnish Sakara-generation” this album can be a very good experience, but I doubt Synestesia reaches the front-line of Finnish metal bands with this effort. It is melodic, raspy, heavy, diverse but in total hard to grasp and lacking much of the high points. But it is a good try, keeping this quality Synestesia would surely had continued to grow and slowly find bigger audiences. Unfortunately in the December 2012 the band announced its breakup. It is a shame as this sort of hard-hitting metal would surely strike home way better in a smoky club after a few beers.

7+/10

Download the album for free: http://nereusprojekti.net/

Night In Gales – Necrodynamicg

In 2001 when Necrodynamic was released, Modern Melodeath was on a really big ascension with names like Soilwork and In Flames leading the pack. Night In Gales previous effort Nailwork was released in 2000 and while being a bit of an oddity, still had most of that 2000s’ melodeath touch.

Criminally underrated stands Night In Gales Necrodynamic. It is often referred with a shrug as the weakest effort of a mediocre melodeath band. While it may be true that Night In Gales never were better than a mediocre melodeath band, they did succeed in composing memorable songs and good album entities. In Necrodynamic Night In Gales is probably as far from melodeath as they’ve ever been. Ironically lyrically they are almost only about death. The songs usually encompass a sort of thrash metal-edged drive with nicely raw and muddy sounds; far away from the typical “modern melodeath sound”, but still melodic and heavy.

The most unusual thing about Night in Gales has always been the compound words in their lyrics. In earlier albums their guitar work was at times also very odd and while not always perfect, still original. Like guitar work the lyrics turned less experimental with time, but still have a pinch of old. How about:

Down for more of those nothings
Neonecrononsense and unlight
Saw a skeleton eatin’ its gravestone
But I keep these words inside

The songs have plenty of groove and while the lyrics aren’t filled with oddcompoundworks anymore; they are still pretty fun.

I really got into Necrodynamic nearly 10 years ago and the song trinity Deathmouth Daisies, Song Of Something and Right From The Morgue is still as fun and rocking as they used to be. There are a lot of albums which I then thought as masterpieces but find hardship in appreciating now. Necrodynamic is still fresh. An album which I’ve always enjoyed and never mixed it up as being a masterpiece.

It is the sort of album you may have heard about; but didn’t know how good it is. Hell, rest of Night in Gales albums were re-released in 2008, but not Necrodynamic. While it may be because of copyright reasons, it still does criminal injustice to the album. I think it was just the wrong time for a modern melodeath band to release an album which was not modern at all.

83/100