Time I is, more or less, an epic, power, symphonic, black, folk metal album with a lot of ambient, orchestral, and Japanese instruments to round out the diversity. But it intends to be so much more than that. It wants to take us on a magical ride through dimensions in order to reach complete serenity. Here is where we find the intent of Wintersun; while there first album was made purely out of guitar-oriented, fast and heavy tempo changes, Time I is made to expand upon the first album’s neoclassical influence by bringing much of the instruments and sequences of notes from the first album into a more controlled, classical, and Japanese influenced chaos. Chaotic perfection, as I will call it. Chaotic perfection is about attaining light in the dark. I define chaotic perfection as disorder and confusion with a limited number of flaws.
There’s a lot happening in Time I. From the wall of orchestral rhythms and melodies, to the electric guitars and drums, to the vocal counterpoints that really give each song dozens of layers and tracks, there’s always something new to find. Is it easy to pick out everything? No. Might some of the album’s layers have been lost in the mix due to poor mastering? Yes. But there’s still more than what people were expecting with Time I. I see the album as an answer to most of the shitty metal on the radio today. While most bands are trying to strip down to appeal to groups of idiots, bands like Wintersun are looking to reinvent and push the genre further into unknown territory, even if there’s so much music being made now that it’s nearly impossible to be completely original and innovative. Regardless, they still manage to accomplish this innovation through the distinct difference in sound that the band has compared to others.
That’s where this idea of magic comes in. Similarly to bands of the 80’s and 90’s, Wintersun seeks to achieve higher musical ambitions as they progress. They include orchestral instruments and massive choirs that take nods from classical compositions and film scores. They intertwine these orchestral elements with virtuoso guitar. Drummer Kai Hahto provides blast beat after blast beat and manages to keep each songs’ insanity in time. It seems as though the band was trying to do something similar to their last album. The biggest difference is the inclusion of the orchestral and Japanese instruments.
Rather than being treated to a land of snow with black metal speed and pure metal from their debut album, Wintersun’s Time I is majestic. It takes us on a journey through a snowy land of fantasy and keeps us there for a long while before finding its way to the peak of the mountain in “Time” itself, the last song on the album. Even the intro notes in the song have an ascending climb in intervals, sonically symbolizing the mountain the album has climbed to reach this peak. But even at the beginning of the last song, we’re not finished yet. The album is filled with sections that segway into the next sections.
Just as the album begins with a track of Japanese instrumentation, the album ends in the last two to three minutes with a slow, ambient, japanese atmosphere that transcends what came before. It keeps climbing.
We reach the end of Time I, but it’s not over yet. The album ends on a long series of Japanese instruments playing whole notes and sustains, where we’re introduced to a cliffhanger; Time II has yet to be completed. It is drifting through “Time”, awaiting the opportunity to complete the cycle of its prologue. And yes, this could sound as though I am totally saying to finish Time II. But that’s not what this is. I am saying, from a musical and literary standpoint, that time will continue on no matter what. That’s the purpose of splitting the album into two parts… no matter how long it takes to complete the second one, we continue to wait for it. Or, as the lyrics go…
There’s uh. There’s no good way to close this out then to say thanks for stopping by and reading about why Wintersun’s second album Time I is a landmark in the metal genre. Here are those lyrics I was talking about.
Time will go on and we are drifting away in the night
I’ve been searching so long, but I will find you even if it takes my whole life
But tonight I feel so alone and I know that you are forever gone
Oh time, don’t fade away when I need you here, oh please don’t leave me now