Sometimes, when you’re given an album to review, you get a picture in your head of how it all came about. Wintersun’s third album is one such. Imagine the scene: a pub somewhere in Finland. Much alcohol has been consumed. The band members are thinking about a new album, and coming out with some weird and wonderful ideas. Finally, one of them says “I want to do a concept album, about the changing seasons. We could call it “The Four Seasons”. Yes?” Another one replies “No, mate, it’s already been done. By Vivaldi. Shame, as it’s a great idea”. The first guy refuses to give up on his idea, and finally agrees to a slight rebranding. Thus “The Forest Seasons” is born.
Now, just to make it crystal clear: this is all a figment of my warped imagination. I am not casting any aspersions about the band or Finns generally regarding alcohol consumption (something about people who live in glass houses not throwing stones springs to mind).
So, my fantasies aside, what of the album? As you might expect, given that the driving force behind it is Jari Mäenpää (formerly Ensiferum) it’s somewhere on the melodic folk spectrum. It starts off all very atmospheric and orchestral – for approximately the first minute, and then morphs into a dark metal world of death, decay and shadows. All of this is overlaid on a very orchestral and bouncy background, which does evoke the idea of spring gearing up for action. So, from that you might expect that the next track, themed summer, should be positively uplifting. Well, its full title is “The forest that weeps (Summer)” which pretty much sums it up.
I’m not sure quite what insight a psychiatrist would get from the fact that my favourite track is the dripping with melancholy “Loneliness (Winter)” which lyrically at least reeks of despair and hopes not realised, but the quality of the clean vocals is outstanding. In theory this should have you reaching for the razor blades, but the intensity keeps you pinned to your seat in awe until the last echoes have died away.
This is a great album. I’ve been a fan of Ensiferum since they formed, and have followed Jari Mäenpää’s progress in Wintersun from the first album. I really enjoyed listening to this, and it reminded me all over again how much I actually like melodic folk metal.