Do a quick Google search for Wintersun and you get a description that describes them as ‘Viking metal’, but this Finnish trio is a lot more than that. The four tracks (yes, four tracks; but don’t worry, they are all over ten minutes in length) that make up Wintersun’s brand new album, The Forest Seasons, seem to use every style of metal you could think of as it sets out to take its listener on a beautiful journey that reaches the epic heights of Gothic/symphonic metal before then hitting the dark depths of death metal.
The album begins with “Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)”, which sees “Part I: The Dark Slumber” begin with night time forest sounds (complete with owls), and then builds slowly until it reaches the brilliant death growls that lift the track to a whole new level. As the song slows down, and the orchestra and choir kick in, you really do feel like you are being taken on a journey flying above the forest below.
“The Forest That Weeps (Summer)” sees the great mix of death growls and melodic vocals mix together amazingly well. The track’s folky sound that possesses a tinge of the electronic continues the journey and just shows that Wintersun is a band that is willing to take risks with their sounds as they go on. Those risks disappear momentarily with “Eternal Darkness (Autumn)” which begins in a slow, haunting fashion, and when the drums of Kai Hahto really kick in with the darker lyrics, you realise that the track has turned into your more traditional style of death metal.
The twists and turns of The Forest Seasons then continue with the finale: “Loneliness (Winter)”. The rock style vocals of a lost man are as far removed as the growls of “Eternal Darkness (Autumn)” as possible, but it still feels like you are still on the same journey. The track is then lifted with some epic, operatic vocals and a brilliant guitar solo before fading away into thunder.
The Forest Seasons is a true work of art that is made even more impressive when you realise that much of the album is the work of Jari Mäenpää and not a band of ten people. An amazing album that shows a truly beautiful side of melodic death metal.