Reviewing Wintersun: The Forest Seasons and Replying to Metal Injection

For the majority of Wintersun fans, it must be nice to be able to rejoice a new album release from the band. I don’t know where I was during the release of Time I. I don’t know why I wasn’t in the audience of that album during its release but, here I am to talk about the newest release in five years, The Forest Seasons.

From what I know, Jari Maenpaa is a perfectionist with his musical work and you can see this with the time it can take for him to release it. The audience is currently waiting for Time II to be released by Wintersun and I want to see where the musical direction will go after how incredible it felt to hear Time I.

I’ll come out and say it now; The Forest Seasons is a fantastic album and if it was meant to hold us over until the promised Time II, I’m going to be satisfied for a long while.

Those who read Metal Injection will hark back to their review saying that it doesn’t stack up as well as it could have compared to the first two albums. This review is going to disagree and here’s a quote from them that might be the most unfair comparison to use.

“If Time II is really all its hyped up to be, then The Forest Seasons could very well become Wintersun’s Load or St. Anger.”

There’s a lack of nuance here. Load, Reload and St. Anger are looked at as the worst of Metallica and there are multiple reasons why. It can be argued that fans do not like those albums because it very awkwardly abandons what they come to expect from Metallica’s work. If James Hetfield wants to create a country album, he could very well make something that sounds great and memorable but, it feels weird to know that Metallica has an album with “Mamma Said” in their library.

To more accurately compare this to another band’s music library (if the reviewers absolutely must), Tool would be a better band to use.

While the debut album and Time I go very much for the “epic” sound and composition, The Forest Seasons is very different. There are four songs and each one is meant to paint a picture to thematically go with each of the four seasons.

1) Awaken From the Dark Slumber (Spring)
2) The Forest That Weeps (Summer)
3) Eternal Darkness (Autumn)
4) Loneliness (Winter)

The packaging invites the listener to a journey. Beautifully illustrated and with a frame inspired by the likes of bands such as Summoning, the cover sets the expectations before the listener is able to indulge. At a second glance, the listener can see all four seasons on the artwork with Winter in the distance. The physical copy shows photos of each band member themed under each season.

Imagine the amount of care and thought that went into the artwork. It’s something to be proud of.

But, what does the album sound like?

Those who are familiar with Wintersun will already have an idea but, there’s a twist and The Four Seasons feels more like a symphonic black metal record married with European folk.

It is jested that black metal sounds as if it is recorded in a locker room but, the amount of polish this album has could serve as an introduction to what black metal can truly sound like. However, it would be unfair to strictly call this black metal. There’s more to it.

Again, the record has one song for each season and Jari has successfully placed at least one spirit of the season in each song. Atmosphere is captured in a jar and converted to musical composition and that seems to be the goal of what Wintersun was going for. How Jari approached this album is a mystery that would be great to figure out and let’s say that The Forest Seasons is a collection of ideas rattling in Jari’s brain as he was getting Time II worked on, then this is something that needed to come out at some point.

“Until then, however, fans may be disappointed that The Forest Seasons is all Wintersun could muster up after a long five-year gap. At least we’ll always have the first two records.”

This is also unfair for Metal Injection to say. The Forest Seasons deserves to be looked at as its own piece of work and after revisiting Time I and the debut before The Forest Seasons is released, the new work doesn’t disappoint. The expectations for the Metal Injection writer aren’t that well known because The Forest Seasons does indeed have its “epic” points but, it’s accompanied with what feels like a trip from the fresh start of Spring to the conclusion brought by Winter. From the choruses performed by Jari’s friends after he lights his Batsignal to the emotional torment of the character sung by Jari in the last lyrics of “Loneliness”, this album completely delivers.

If atmosphere is the goal, Wintersun nailed it. Listen to this as you sit down with a coffee hot chocolate or if you want to enjoy it in a unique way, listen to it while playing Skyrim.

If the words of this review do not convince you to get this record, Wintersun has The Forest Seasons available for the listener to try via YouTube and Bandcamp. There’s no excuse and this may be the best release this year.

Note: While The Arrogant Metalhead and Arrogant Media are not paid to review or show the album nor wish to, the point of placing the YouTube video is to help the reader decide to support the band and purchase the album.

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