FOUR-tracks, 54 minutes and several years later Wintersun are back. Have they been missed? What was all that crowdfunding studio nonsense? And, have Jari and co finally disappeared up their own asses?
On first listen 'Forest Seasons' is a well played and well written album with all tbe bells and whistles one would expect from Wintersun, but taken to the extreme. For example with it blithely blaring on your hi fi or on the car CD deck it tends to wash over the listener.
Moments briefly engage, such as Jari's varied vocals on 'The Forest That Weeps (Summer)' or some of Kai's drum lines, but it all seems too much of an effort. That is until you lie back relaxed and play it over a good set of headphones. Then it all seems to make sense.
Sure there is a tendency to overdo the programmed keys, but it is overall an immersive experience, journeying through epic metal territory deep in Nordic mythology and Wintersun's own mythos.
All four tracks fit well together, despite the, at times, tortured shoe-horning of the lyrics. The opening of the afore-mentioned 'Summer' is a nicely balanced build-up,
With only four-tracks, and their mirroring of each other it is hard to pick a stand-out, but if forced, 'Eternal Darkness (Autumn)' is the one. Menacing and melancholic, black and starkly observed. Orchestral and black metal married, depressing and relentless.
It really only is when one sits down for a second listen (over headphones or an a stereo set to ear roasting volume that the 'Forest Seasons' really grabs and engages. And, that effort is worth it.
Released with companion live release 'Live At Tuska Open Air 2013' fans will be listening to each intonation and guitar line before their 2017 summer dates, which includes a slot at Bloodstock on the 13th August.
How it will all go down in the balmy heat of Catton Park...
Review by Jonathan Traynor