In our quest to keep youse guys informed about the best heavy metal has to offer and to stroke our own egos, we have engaged in a no-holds-barred battle royale to decide on the top ten albums of five-year periods flowing backwards from modern times to the years when stock in hairspray and cocaine went hand in hand (i.e. the 80s). Two or three times a week we will reveal a collective pick from the individual nominations, culminating in the best record of each block. Some picks will be obvious, some surprises, all the best the genre has to offer. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Melodic Death Metal (Finland, 2012)
Nominated by Christopher Mammal
Wintersun love their recapitulation codas. There’s nothing wrong with that. Beethoven also loved them. A coda of this type is a re-visit to a structural theme developed earlier in the music. Most songs have some sort of coda, usually in the closing section. Wintersun use their special coda throughout the album to make every track on “Time 1” hearken in some way to the mountain-sized second track, “Sons of Winter and Stars”. The effect is subtle at times, yet it is pervasive. This gives the entire album a symphonic compositional structure which has been echoed in modern rock operas.
By the time I discovered Wintersun’s eponymous first album a few years after its release in 2004, melodic death had already become my most-played sub-genre of metal; it still is. Wintersun excel at it. Jari Mäenpää is a wizard at both clean and dark vocals. I’m not sure how he pronounces his name, but his voice swells with the same amount of emotion that Sibelius put into his masterwork, “Finlandia”. Meanwhile the instrumentation is as fluid and varied as it is excellent. All round, this is one of my top albums of the last 65 years.
So come on, Wintersun! Only two albums since you formed 11 years ago? This Mammal really needs more, please. My wife and cats need a change from your lines which I’ve corrupted to sing badly while I potter around: “We are the sons of winter and stars, we come from a land without bars. We don’t drink your beer and we don’t like wine, and we’re always in bed before nine.”
A couple of the songs that top my list for 2013 are rather long. They’re worth it, says Dark Metal Cat. Aeon Zen’s song is my ideal of what a prog metal song should be. Of course it leans strongly towards the prog quarter. The Wintersun song embodies just about everything I love about harder melodic metal. It’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in the last 64 years, 9 months and 5 days.
The shorter number by Diablo Swing Orchestra is so… out there… that it sets the bar for many types of experimental metal.
Finland is the most remote country on Earth. Even if you’re standing on the Finnish border, Finland is farther away than anywhere in the world and maybe on the Moon too. Finland has a small population. All they manufacture is snow, swamps, champion racing drivers and metal music.
In Finland the emphasis is clearly on quality, not quantity. How else would one explain how Finland produced my top three songs of 2004?
Posted by RiffRaff
Want to talk about one hell of a wait? Since the much-loved debut in 2004 Jari Mäenpää, the mastermind behind Wintersun, has been saying that he’s working on the new album and it will be released soon. Delays, technical problems one after another, and Jari’s perfectionism led to the perpetual postponement of the new record to the point where it became a joke and a myth in the metal community over the 8 year wait. Well, finally the album is available for all to hear and it is a very real thing. The question remains, did it go the way of Morbid Angel? Well I’m only about 20 minutes into the record and so far I’m finding myself quite impressed. The size of the scope on the record going by the first couple tracks is already putting their debut to shame. And this is just part one with part 2 to be release some time in the near future (don’t worry, it’s already finished, just corporate b.$. holding it up).
So, if you like gargantuan heavy metal epics, don’t miss your chance to give a listen to one, if not the most, anticipated album of the year. Click Here or on the album cover above to go to the stream. Note: the servers are a tad stressed, so keep hitting F5 until you get through, took me about 1 min. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Posted by Mark/Angel
OK, hands up. If a Norwegian band labels themselves as “symphonic black metal”, what’s obviously going to be the first port of call as influence? If you said Emperor’s In The Nightside Eclipse, award yourself two points. Now promptly throw that out of the window when I present you with Grand Alchemist and their sophomore album after 10 years. The title, Disgusting Hedonism, gives fair warning of the content; packed with symphonic extravagance on top of a solid metallic base, the quintet lead a merry dance through 45 minutes of lunacy from start to finish.
Posted by RiffRaff
Well, it’s about f’n Time (sorry about the lame pun 😉 ). After a near decade of promising a new album soon Wintersun look like they may be on track to actually release that long-awaited album this year. And for keeping us fans waiting so long, it looks like founder/frontman/ex-Ensiferum frontman Jari Maenpaa has crafted a double album. The album won’t be released in one shot, but will be separated by a few months in between to let fans digest each part appropriately.
Well, I can definitely say I’m totally looking forward to this record. Let’s hope the 8 year wait was well worth it (it should be, no pressure really). Hey, Ensiferum is releasing a double album this year too, wouldn’t be cool if Jari is still on good terms with his ex-bandmates, that would be one epic tour I wouldn’t miss for the world. But, Wintersun is headlining Heidenfest this Fall with Korpiklaani, that’s got my interest.. Here’s the clipping from the band’s website as well as the video of “Beyond the Dark Sun” off their debut record. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Time for some album(s) news. Wintersun’s “Time” is going to be two albums, titled TIME I & TIME II. We made this decision simply because of few reasons:
– All the 80min of material won´t fit on a regular CD and we didn´t want to cut anything out.
– We want you to be able to hear new material sooner and not wait any longer and we want to go on tour sooner.
– The music is very full and complex, so listening this kind of “hard listening (not easy listening)” material straight for 80 minutes is a bit too much (even for me). Both albums will be approx. nice 40 min epic packages of fireworks.
– We like the idea of releasing two albums within one year, so the band will stay more visible longer, which is important in these “modern times”. No more years of silence for us!
We hope you´ll approve our new little “plan” and support us when the “Time” comes!
The tracklisting for TIME I looks like this:
1. When Time Fades Away
2. Sons of Winter and Stars
I Rain of Stars
II Surrounded by Darkness
III Journey Inside a Dream
IV Sons of Winter and Stars
3. Land of Snow and Sorrow
4. Darkness and Frost
TIME I mix is set to be finished by July, mastered in the beginning of July and released in early fall of 2012! TIME II will be released in 2013. Conception of album artworks, videos, live shows incl. rehearsals will keep us busy during the summer and I´ll also continue mixing TIME II meanwhile. We´ll be hopefully posting some videos and teasers during summer. Also some new live show announcements soon, so stay tuned for those!
We can´t wait for you guys to hear TIME I material and play it to you live! Have a great summer!
Jari & Wintersun boys