Live at The Mayan Theater

Downtown Los Angeles, CA

September 23rd, 2018

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Wintersun are a heavy metal band hailing from Helsinki, Finland. They are known for their massively epic creations that span many sub-genres such as power metal, folk metal, and melodic death metal all within a given song.

The brainchild of Jari Mäenpää, Wintersun have put out three albums in their fifteen year existence, each packed with moving songs that weave tales of the universe, time, life, death, and the changing seasons.

Each song has a mystical undertone and moves between sound-scapes as the lengthy tracks evolve from orchestral and symphonic with clean vocal choirs to heavy guitar-laden pieces with screeched and growled verse and then back again.

Joining Jari on stage was Teemu Mäntysaari on guitar and Jukka Koskinen on bass guitar, both of whom are permanent members of Wintersun. In the studio, Jari also performs a large amount of the guitar work featured on the albums but live he focuses on his vocals and is a very dynamic stage persona. To accommodate this, Asim Searah plays additional guitar on tours. In addition, Heikki Saari of Finntroll fame is filling in for Kai Hahto on drums who is recovering from hand injuries and could not partake in this tour.

Wintersun had a huge banner back-drop that was the image from their latest album's cover, "The Forest Seasons" which portrayed a stream running through a dense forest with rays of sunlight filtering through the leaves.

This set the tone for their set as they took the stage. They started off with "Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring)" from this release. Tracking in at nearly fifteen minutes long, it was an epic opening and encompassed what Wintersun are all about; huge symphonic textures and overtures, headbanging guitar riffs, male vocal choirs juxtaposing against harsher lead vocals, and overall, a massive emotional lift as the magnitude of the subject matter and the energy of the band and crowd combined.

They jumped back to their debut, self-titled album for several in a row with fan-favorites "Winter Madness", and "Sleeping Stars" before completing the triad of older material with "Starchild".

Jari was a bundle of energy, moving from one side of the large stage to the other, gesturing frenetically to punctuate the lyrics and music. The other members of the band would lend their voices for a choral effect that gave the songs even more magnitude.

They returned to "The Forest Seasons" for "Loneliness (Winter)". This song portrays a beautiful melancholy that captures the essence of winter perfectly; "Feel the burning coldness of the falling snow. And one day when everything will be gone, Washed away by the morning sun."

Wintersun moved on to their sophomore album for the first time of the night with the amazing "Sons of Winter and Stars" off of "Time I". This song inspired a massive sing along, perhaps the crowd favorite of the evening: "Sons of winter and stars! Rise! Rise! Fly with us through the darkness. Sons of winter and stars! Rise! Rise! And we shall embrace the stars".

Returning to the latest album for another change of the seasons, they hit upon my favorite song of the night with "The Forest That Weeps (Summer)". The band all raised their voice in choir that had a powerful effect: "In the dark rain, the gray mountain sing. A sad song of winter and the howling wind. Visions of the pass in the haunting dreams. Under the dead sky, under the withered trees."

Many of their songs are way over the ten minute mark so their live set structure is not that of a normal band. We had already been treated to a lengthy show but they were not done yet. They broke out a new song that does not appear on any of their current albums with "Storm".

Hitting up their debut for one final piece from that initial era, they did "Battle Against Time". A very brief pause gave us just enough time to show our appreciation for the band before they did the final song of the evening in the form of the title track from "Time I".

It was an awesome show, filled with brilliant musicianship and the songs were even more epic and powerful live than I imagined they would be.

Wintersun are a really amazing band with lyrical subject matter that speaks to me in their esoteric nature and search for universal discovery. I highly recommend checking these guys out and hopefully we don't have to wait another six years for them to tour again.

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