MY WIFE SAYS I'm a huge nerd, but if she's right, I'm not the stereotypical one you might be thinking of: I don't play Dungeons & Dragons, or collect decorative knives and swords, or attend comic book conventions in costume. As a matter of fact, I think I'm pretty cool—though according to her, being well versed in any subject (in my case, music) makes me a "nerd."
Of course, my taste for European symphonic power metal, and all of its melodic cheese and leanings toward fantasy themes, probably doesn't help.
One thing about obsessed, learned folks, though, is that we can always sniff out our own kind. If I'm a nerd, then I can say with complete confidence that Jari Mäenpää, the composer, lyricist, and auteur of Finland's Wintersun, is a nerd on an epic scale.
On Wintersun's 2004 self-titled record, Mäenpää sings and plays every instrument besides the drums. These aren't simple guitar- and bass-driven rock songs, either. Wintersun's sweeping, orchestral compositions contain multiple guitar tracks and layer upon layer of synths and vocals—they're technical on a massive, bombastic scale. If you were to give Wintersun a standard two-word genre description, it could be "score metal." A Wintersun record is the musical equivalent of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Fast-forward to the present, eight LONG years later, to the release of Wintersun's follow-up Time I. For this outing, Mäenpää remains the master and overseer of all the music, but after the release of the first record, he enlisted a few hired guns to tour and help his concepts come to fruition. Jukka Koskinen joined on bass in late 2005.
"Jari has a clear vision of how Wintersun should sound, but we all work in symbiosis where we share ideas and decide how best to serve the songs," says Koskinen.
Time I ups the ante from the previous record. It has the same sweeping, epic feel as Wintersun, but this time it took upward of 1,600 tracks of instrumentation to accomplish it. The depth of each song is difficult to grasp.
"That's where the brilliance is," explains Koskinen. "Maybe you might not hear all the little details, but they are there creating the feeling and atmosphere, which gives you a more in-depth experience. Simple can be beautiful, but multi-dimensional is more so, when you know how to create it!"