WEEK 114 – WINTERSUN

My HeadBangers, welcome from Helsinki, Finland, the Power/Folk/Melodic Death Metal Band:

WINTERSUN

“Time”

“Land Of Snow and Sorrow”

After missing last week, I was kind of in a state of shock over the passing of Alexi Laiho, I had to have some Folk Metal to take me away from all the things happening this week.  When the world is in such a state of confusion, Wintersun can take me away to another place.  Let’s look at some bio on these guys.

Wintersun is a Finnish Power/Folk/Melodic Death Metal band from Helsinki originally formed as the side project of Jari Mäenpää,  who was then vocalist and guitarist of folk metal band Ensiferum.

For those of you who don’t know what Folk Metal is:

Folk metal is a fusion genre of heavy metal music and traditional folk music that developed in Europe during the 1990s. It is characterized by the widespread use of folk instruments and, to a lesser extent, traditional singing styles (for example, Dutch Heidevolk, Danish Sylvatica and Spanish Stone of Erech). It also sometimes features soft instrumentation influenced by folk rock.

In 2003, Mäenpää began pulling together songs that he had been working on since 1995. These songs followed specific themes described by Mäenpää as majestic, “spacy”, and melodic. While Mäenpää planned to perform and record each instrument for the first album himself, he still required a drummer. He sent demos to Kai Hahto, former member of Rotten Sound, who agreed to perform the drums.

After obtaining a record deal, Mäenpää scheduled studio time to record the first album. Ensiferum’s tour to support their 2004 release was scheduled at the same time, which forced Mäenpää to request time off from the band. The band instead fired him, and Mäenpää was free to go ahead with the production of his self-titled album, Wintersun.

After the release of Wintersun, the band found permanent members to perform shows and promote the album, although a keyboardist would never be found. In 2006, Wintersun began work on their second and third albums, Time I and Time II, which were initially intended to be released as a single album. Recording began in May of that year, but the albums would be the recipient of years-long delays for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was the complexity of each song’s mix.

Jari wanted  “to make songs that make you feel like you are floating in space.” Mäenpää chose the name “Wintersun” from a list a friend had produced, later explaining, “Winter reflects the cold and stormy side of the album and also the Finnish melancholy and magic. Sun is related to the ‘universe, space and stars’-feel of the album, which is also strongly connected to the lyrics.” Although the songs that would appear on Wintersun had been written between 1995 and 2004.  Mäenpää and Hahto recorded demo versions of “Winter Madness”, “Beyond the Dark Sun”, and “Death and the Healing”, which were sent directly to Nuclear Blast. The label offered a contract for several albums stipulating that a three-song demo must be approved before each new album is recorded.

“Death And The Healing”

Even after obtaining a record deal, Mäenpää intended on keeping Wintersun as a side project during his tenure as lead singer and guitarist for Ensiferum.  Unfortunately, to support the 2004 release of Ensiferum’s Iron, Spinefarm Records had  scheduled a European tour with dates that conflicted with studio time Mäenpää had booked to record Wintersun. After requesting a break from the band, Mäenpää was fired from Ensiferum.

Mäenpää focused his energies on recording Wintersun despite the lack of formal band members. The vocals, guitars, bass, and keyboards on Wintersun were performed solely by Mäenpää, who was already adept at recording multi-instrumental songs, having grown up with 8- and 16 track equipment.   Three studios were used in the making of Wintersun: drums were recorded at Tico-Tico Studios, Mäenpää’s vocals, synth, and guitarwork were recorded at Sundi Coop Studios, and Nino Laurenne mixed the album at Sonic Pump Studios. Mäenpää recorded additional synth and guitar solos on his 16-track recorder. Wintersun was released on 13 September 2004.

Inspired by Wintersun’s musical direction, Kai Hahto left Rotten Sound and joined Wintersun as permanent drummer, and Jukka Koskinen, of Norther, joined Wintersun as bassist. Oliver Fokin, former drummer for Ensiferum and whom Mäenpää credits as inspiring him to start playing guitar.  The music video for Beyond the Dark Sun was shot over a period of two days: 3 and 4 July 2004. It was produced and directed by Maurice Swinkels.

“Beyond The Dark Sun”

I love this!!!!

In October 2004, Wintersun announced the departure of Oliver Fokin as guitarist, and a suitable replacement would not be found until 27 December when Teemu Mäntysaari joined. The search for a keyboardist continued, and Wintersun was forced to use backup tapes for their  performances.

Recording for the second album, tentatively titled Time, began on 2 May 2006. Wintersun entered Sonic Pump Studios with Thunderstone’s Nino Laurenne as sound engineer. Recording of Hahto’s drum tracks began on 3 May. Rhythm guitars and bass were also recorded during the session. Mäenpää would record synthesizers and sampling, guitar solos, acoustic guitars, vocals, and Mäntysaari’s guitarwork at his apartment studio. The album was planned to have seven songs and an intro and outro. The songs’ compositions are complex, being composed of 200 to 300 tracks each.

Time” would face more setbacks, delaying the album’s release for years.  In October 2006, Wintersun released a statement that, because recording was continually delayed, the dates for the album’s mix would be pushed back to May 2007, causing Wintersun’s appearance at Ragnarök Festival that same month to be cancelled.  A tentative release date for August 2007 was given.

In April 2007, Mäenpää released a statement updating the status on the album, detailing that difficulties with hardware failures caused further delays in the recording process. The mix dates were cancelled, and because Laurenne’s schedule at Sonic Pump Studios was full for the remainder of the year, the album’s release was pushed back further. By this time, all guitars, including solos and acoustic, were recorded, and the intro was completed. Mäenpää had begun composing and arranging the synth layers, but stress and frustration had been hindering his creativity.

Hahto issued an update in June 2008, explaining that the album’s delay would be indefinite.  Difficulties with computer hardware due to limited amount of RAM Mäenpää’s ability to compose orchestrations in real time.  However, the band appeared in Metalcamp in July 2008.

While technical difficulties pursued Wintersun into 2009, problems impeding the album’s progress would eventually include Mäenpää’s actual apartment. The increase in stress caused Mäenpää to have writer’s block. Wintersun cancelled all 2009 promotional tours to focus solely on the album’s completion.

On  November 17,  2010, the Wintersun official homepage was updated stating that they would again be playing live shows. Three events, Metalfest, Bloodstock, and Metalcamp were announced. The reason stated for these shows was that a deal with their label provided money for new computer hardware in return for playing the shows.

On March 16,  2012, Wintersun announced via their official homepage that they would headline the Heidenfest Tour in October 2012. The band also stated that the mixing of their new album, Time, was going well and that a release was planned for late summer of the same year. They also stated that Time would be split in two albums. On July 18, 2012, Wintersun announced on their official homepage that part I of Time would be released on October 12, 2012 (Time I was actually released on 19 October 2012). In support of the new album, Wintersun embarked on their first tour of North America, supporting Eluveitie  along with Varg, starting in late November.

Mixing for Time II began in early 2013. The band stated the album “will continue where ‘Time I’ left [off]” and include seven guitar solos. The album was expected to be released in early 2014.  In August 2013, Wintersun embarked on a second North American tour. Support was provided by fellow Nuclear Blast artists Fleshgod, Apocalypse, Arsis, and Starkill, with Wintersun headlining.

On January 29, 2015, Wintersun announced via their official Facebook page that Kai Hahto would be unable to perform in upcoming live shows, due to his obligations to Nightwish. Timo Häkkinen was named as his temporary replacement for live performances. In November 2016, Wintersun announced that they were looking for a second guitarist for the band so Mäenpää could focus solely on vocals during live performances.

On January 4, 2017, the band announced on their Facebook page that the recording for their third studio album was completed and that it would be released later that same year. The album is not going to be “Time II”, but rather a new project. On 11 January 2017 the band announced the name of their third studio album, The Forest Seasons.  On March 1st, the band started a crowdsourcing campaign on the Indiegogo platform, the first of three projected campaigns, aiming to raise funds for their own studio. The first campaign was successful, surpassing the minimum objective of 150,000 euro in a single day, and raising 464,330 euro in total.

On  August 17,  2017, the band posted their future tour dates and notified fans that drummer, Kai Hahto, is still recovering from hand injuries and cannot tour. Hahto will be continuing his tour with Nightwish. Wintersun announced its new session drummer will be Rolf Pilve of Stratovarius.

On July 15, 2019, Hahto was announced as Nightwish’s permanent drummer following Jukka Nevalainen’s decision not to return to the band.

There we have it, but still between 2019 and now 2021 there we still a few changes in band members.  Personally I don’t see how you can have a band member on hiatus since 2017.  But that’s just me.

Now let’s meet that band as it is now:

From left to right:

Asim Searah − rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2017 – present)

 Jukka Koskinen – bass, backing vocals (2004 – present)

Jari Mäenpää – lead vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar (2003 – present)

Heikki Saari – drums (2017 – present)

Teemu Mäntysaari – Lead guitar, backing vocals (2004 – present)

 

My Thoughts:

Where do I begin with Wintersun, there are many Folk Metal bands in the world, but add in a little Power and Melodic Death Metal, such a perfect, winning combination.  There is just so much shit happening in the USA, that it is truly overwhelming at times.  You can’t comprehend everything that is happening or you will just shut down.  That is when I let the music take me to a distant place in another world and another time.  

“Loneliness”

This song says it all for me.  It doesn’t make me feel lonely.  It makes me think of being in the North, in a cabin deep in the forest.  A fire in the fireplace, far away from this crazy society and  at peace inside.  If a song sounds sad, embrace it, make it yours and the sadness will disappear just like the snow melting in spring.   My Nordic Folk Metal always takes to me a land of wizards, dragons, forest elves, when being alive at that time was felt to the bone.  No tv, cell phones, etc.  Times when your word was all you had, your honor, and people accepted that, unlike today when so many people just say anything and people have no honor.  It’s hard to have honor and have your word stand for itself.  If we all did that there would be no problems, but alas most people are not.   The world can be so much better, but it is up to us, are you up to the challenge??  Listen to the music then make your decision…….

That’s it for this week my HeadBangers, join me next week for another band and another song.  In the meantime don’t stand to close to the fire if you can’t handle the burn…..

Ques/Comments From My HeadBangers

This weeks comment is from:

T. Balcok

Thanks-a-mundo for the blog.  Really thank you!   Keep writing.

Thank you for taking time to comment, I appreciate it.  As I always say I will be here till the last song is played.  Pass the work along and thank you again.

A Word My HeadBangers On Alexi Laiho

Last week I heard that Alexi Laiho had died.  No way you’re lying to me.  No he wasn’t lying.  I was in shock and stunned when I heard this.  As a member of the HateCrew I am still numb, and all I can do is show how I feel with his music….

“Angels Don’t Kill”

I know this is an old one but it is a great one.

I saw him perform twice while I was in Finland.  Once with COB and once with The Local Band.  I remember telling the Metal Man, when I look at Alexi, I always see a darkness in his eyes, something that I could never get out of my mind to this day.  It will be with me all my life.

“Sunglasses At Night”

This is my absolute favorite, listen to that guitar.

Alexi received widespread acclaim for his guitar work. In 2004 he was ranked #96 out of 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World. Guitar World magazine has also ranked him as one of the 50 fastest guitarists in the world.  In addition, Roadrunner Records ranked him at #41 out of 50 of The Greatest Metal Frontmen of All Time Furthermore, Total Guitar conducted a public voting poll to determine the greatest metal guitarist of all time; Laiho was voted #1 out of 20 metal guitarists, with over 20% of the vote.

There’s so much more that could and will be said about Alexi.  His music will stand the test of time, it will always be here.  I know a lot of my HeadBangers are just as devastated as I was when I heard the news.  We all want to know what happened, all I can tell you for sure is that his managers said he had been ill for several years and that’s it.  Eventually it will come out, it always does.  Until then out of respect for his family and Alexi time needs to pass, to heal the wounds of someone so young being taken from us.   We HeadBangers are as I always say “Family”, the shock will pass and we will find comfort in his music, that is something no one can take from us.   Until then remember the good times, sit and listen to the music, reflect on your own life, that saying “Tomorrow is not promised”, think about what you want to do with your life, what do you want to leave behind.  We are a family, don’t forget that, if you need to talk, I’m here…..

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR MY HEADBANGERS

I’ve been without internet for a couple days, but, I’m back and I want to wish all my HeadBangers a Happy New Year.   My hope is this year is better than the last, but that’s what we say every year isn’t it.  Even alone as the lone wolf, the Ausländer, it’s the music that unites us and will keep us strong.  Our Metal Family is just that, a family, even if we disagree, fight, we are still there for each other both physically and mentally.  I’m talking about a hug if you need one guys don’t get crazy on me lmfao.  There are times that make you feel like wth is going on here, and you can’t change or have control over everything.   You can’t be everything to everybody or even to one person.  One thing I have learned over the past couple years, number one remove toxic people, places, or things, number two be true to yourself.  This is day 2 of 2021 and I’m doing good so far, no bad Karma, keeping to what I believe but not hating you know.  In the end guys we are just one family, one Metal Family, keep that in your heart.

LOVE YOU HEADBANGERS

WEEK 113 – DARK TRANQUILLITY

My HeadBangers welcome from Gothenburg, Sweden, the Melodic Death Metal Band:

DARK TRANQUILLITY

“The Dark Unbroken”

“Eyes Of The World”

This is Melodic Death Metal, but there is a little something extra in it.  Sounds like a little black metal mixed in there, what do you thing my HeadBangers??  Let’s look at some bio on these guys and see what we find out…

The Swedish  band is considered melodic death metal. They are considered one of the pioneering acts of the Gothenburg metal scene, which also includes bands such as In Flames and At the Gates. Dark Tranquillity is regarded as the Gothenburg fathers in the film entitled Out of Nothing: A DT Documentary released by Century Media, which you can find on YouTube.  It was filmed in their home town in April 2009.  It’s really interesting so take a look at it guys.

I want to let you know just exactly what this “Gothenburg Metal Scene”, means:

Swedish death metal is a death metal music scene developed in Sweden. Many Swedish death metal bands are associated with the melodic death metal movement,  giving Swedish death metal a different sound from other variations of death metal. Unlike American death metal groups, the first Swedish bands were rooted in hardcore punk. Although Norway is known for its quantity of black metal, Gothenburg in Sweden has a large melodic death metal scene, while Stockholm is known for its more raw death metal scene.

Basically when they are talking about a “Different Sound”, you know how I always say I can tell Finnish from Swedish, from Norwegian metal.  Well it’s because of the way the guys tune or detune their instruments.  I have always said if you listen to one countries metal then listen to another, if you have ‘The Ear” you will be able to tell where they come from.  At least that’s what I can do, everyone is different but you can learn more about it if you want just look up Gothenburg Metal Scene and it will open a new behind the scenes look at how different metal happened, just by musicians trying new things with their instruments.  Now back to their bio.

The band was formed in 1989 by current vocalist and then-guitarist Mikael Stanne, and guitarist Niklas Sudin, under the name Septic Broiler. Three additional members, Anders Fridén, Anders Jivarp and Martin Henriksson, later joined the line-up.

In 1990, the band recorded a demo entitled Enfeebled Earth before changing their name to Dark Tranquillity, which featured a largely thrash metal-influenced style of death metal, comparable to early Death.  After releasing another demo entitled Rehearsal December 1990, the band changed its name to Dark Tranquillity, and released multiple demos, including Trail of Life Decayed in 1991 and A Moonclad Reflection in 1992, which both showed a progression into the more melodic nuances of death metal that the band would explore on their later studio releases.

This is the demo from Septic Broiler “Enfeebled Earth – 1990”

In August 1993, the band released their debut album Skydancer. Soon after, vocalist Anders Fridén left the band and joined fellow Gothenburg band, In Flames. Guitarist Mikael Stanne then assumed the position of lead vocalist, and Fredrik Johansson was recruited to take over guitar duties.

In 1994, Dark Tranquillity covered the song “My Friend of Misery” for the Metallica tribute album Metal Militia − A Tribute to Metallica.

“My Friend of Misery”

In January 1999, Fredrik Johansson let the band for personal reasons.  With that position now vacant, bassist Martin Henriksson.

Projector was released in June 1999, and was later nominated for a Swedish Grammy Award. The album saw a major change in songwriting: while retaining growled vocals and their signature death metal sound, the band added pianos, baritone soft vocals, and verse-chorus fashion to their sound, reflecting the band’s goal to strive for different musical expressions. Around the same time, Skydancer and Of Chaos and Eternal Night were reissued together as Skydancer/Of Chaos and Eternal Night.

2000 saw the release of Haven, which featured prominent electronics in comparison to previous releases. Like its predecessor, Haven was also received in a generally mixed manner by fans and critics alike.

Dark Tranquillity released Damage Done in 2002, was a return to a much heavier direction, adding thicker guitar distortion, deep atmospheric keyboards, and abandoning soft vocals altogether. They released the music video for the single “Monochromatic Stains”, followed by their release of Live Damage, their first live DVD. In 2004, their compilation album Exposures – In Retrospect and Denial, featuring one disc with rare and unreleased tracks and another with live tracks, was released.

Character was the seventh release from Dark Tranquillity, released in 2005, and was held in much critical praise. It featured the third music video released by Dark Tranquillity, with the successful single “Lost to Apathy”.   After releasing the album, the band played live in Canada for the first time.

In 2007, Fiction was released, which in turn, saw a return of Stanne’s clean vocals, and the first female guest vocalist since Projector. The album also saw writing style that combined the stylings of Projector and Haven, with the more aggressive traits of Character and Damage Done. At this time, Dark Tranquillity toured with The Haunted, Into Eternity, and Scar Symmetry for the North America Metal for the Masses Tour. They also toured the UK in early 2008 along with Omnium Gatherum. They returned to the US during spring 2008 with Arch Enemy. On the band’s official website they announced that bass guitarist Niklasson left the band in August 2008 due to personal reasons with no hard feelings between him and the band. On 19 September 2008, the band found a new bassist in Dimension Zero guitarist Daniel Antonsson, who also was a guitarist for Soilwork.

On 14 October 2009, Dark Tranquillity finished work on their ninth studio album. On 26 October 2009, they released a DVD titled Where Death Is Most Alive. On 30 October 2009, at the release party of the DVD, 333 copies were given away for free of the rare live album The Dying Fragments. On 21 December 2009, Dark Tranquillity released the song “Dream Oblivion”, and on 14 January 2010, they released the song “At the Point of Ignition”,  from their ninth album, exclusively on their MySpace page. Their ninth album, titled We Are the Void, was released on 1 March 2010 in Europe and 2 March in the US. They were also the opening act for a US winter tour that was headlined by Killswitch Engage and joined by The Devil Wears Prada.

Dark Tranquillity headlined a North American tour in May–June 2010 with Threat Signal, Mutiny Within and the Absence.   In February 2011, the band performed live at BITS Pilani Hyderabad Campus in Hyderabad, India.

I’m going to jump ahead to 2019, as you can see the band has a lot of history, and members leaving and new members coming, but that is what occurs with a band that has been around awhile.  What you wanted to do when you are 19 may not be what you want to do after 26 years with the same people.  It doesn’t always have to be an explosion of personalities, as with relationships, people grow apart simple as that, you wish them the best and you both go your own way.

On June 29,  2019, Mikael Stanne said in an interview that the band is “gathering material and starting the pre-production process” for their twelfth studio album.  On 22 March 2020, Niklas Sundin released a statement on Dark Tranquillity’s social media, announcing his departure from the band. A week later the band announced on that the recording of their new album had started, and that the two guitarists who had been touring with the band touring since 2017, Christopher Amott and Johan Reinholdz are now full members of the band. The album, Moment, was released on 20 November 2020. As a preview, they released the singles “Phantom Days”, “Identical to None”, “The Dark Unbroken” and “Eyes Of The World” on September 11th, October 16th, October 30th and on November 20th 2020, respectively.

“Phantom Days”

Let’s meet the band:

From left to right:

Martin Brändström – Keyboards, programming (1999 – present)

Anders Iwers – Bass (2015 – present)

Mikael Stanne – Vocals (1994 – present & 1989 – 1994 rhythm guitar)

Johan Reinholdz – Guitar (2020 – present: live 2017 – 2020)

Christopher Amott – Guitars (2020 – present: live 2017-2020)

Anders Jivarp – Drums (1989 – present)

And let’s not forget WACKEN 2015

My Thoughts:

Well first my HeadBangers, sorry for the delay, no internet access for a couple days.  Tell me what you think of these guys.   Me, I love them.  After being around 32 years, come on, they sound better than ever.   Their songs, especially The Dark Unbroken gives me the chills.  You know the feeling you get when you’re alone looking out of the window from behind blinds and all you see is snow, and the world is crumbling around you, this is how it makes me feel.  Sometimes you have to shut down to continue, hurting from the inside out as he sings, but it will pass, and the music; it will remain long after we are gone.  We were for a second in time one with the band, the music, joined together by the singers call, and here we are my metal family 2021 still going, still hoping, still METAL!!!!!!

That’s it for this week, join me next week for another band and another song.  Sorry to rush my thoughts this week, but they’re a little darker than usual so I’ll let the music speak for me.  In the meantime don’t stand to close to the fire if you can’t handle the burn…..

Ques/Comments From My HeadBangers

This weeks comment is from:

Shay S.

Appreciating the dedication you put into your blog and in-depth information you present. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate it very much.  It means a lot to me when my headbangers leave a question or comment whether good or bad, everyone has their opinion on music and their likes and dislikes.  Sometimes we don’t agree but, in the end, we are still metal family.

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