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VERISÄKEET

Moonsorrow

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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4 stars Moonsorrow is essentially a Folk Metal band, but while aiming for an epic sound they morphed into a Progressive Metal band...with strong folk elements. Verisäkeet is not their most progressive album. However, it is something of a fan favourite. For the more progressive I would recommend V: Hävittety and for the slightly less progressive but lighter sound I would recommend Kivenkantaja. Verisäkeet is very, very dark. If this appeals to you, please, read on!

As stated before, they are influenced by Metal and Progressive music. However, their music doesn't seem to be written to show off so much as to achieve a certain sound. This album in particular is closer to Black Metal, with the occasional unmistakable Burzum sound being integrated into the many layers. This album makes use of some very interesting folk instruments, including some of the instruments commonly used in Folk Metal, like fiddles and tin whistles. A couple of typically Finnish instruments are played on this record - the jouhikko and kantele. All of these instruments contribute to the massive sound with hidden complexities that allow the listener to hear something new every time.

The instruments themselves allow Moonsorrow to have a rather unique sound, but I feel the compositional style is also very distinctive. They make use of riffs that sometimes sound like those of typical metal bands, but each section of music morphs seamlessly into the next. Even the tracks themselves morph into the next, making the album truly feel like a journey. Clean vocals, choral vocals, and screams are all used. Unlike many bands, these screams make sense within the music and are not often too prominent. All the vocal styles work well and contribute to the overall feel in such a way that even someone who is not a fan of metal vocals can appreciate it. All the lyrics on this album are in Finnish, and I believe this is true of all their work apart from some of the Tulimyrsky EP. The beauty of the language lends itself to the music, which generally evokes images of dark Finnish landscapes. The words need not be understood for the listener to understand the music.

Repetition is definitely used, but not in a tiresome way. Sections morph before getting tiresome and appear again at suitable intervals, sometimes with variations. The mix hides many complexities, not all of which are entirely musical. Birdsong, wind, and battle sounds are all used in the mix, slightly predictably, but work fairly well by adding to the already bleak atmosphere. As the tracks fade out there is often a lot still going on and not necessarily in a repeat 'till fade way. In fact, new musical ideas are often subtly brought in very near the end.

The highlight of the album for me is Pimeä. Ville Sorvali's vocal performance is fantastic. I feel it is even more heart-felt and mournful than on any of the other tracks. There are clean vocals for what could be the chorus. The harmonies rise above the guitar's distortion beautifully. This choral style is used at various points throughout the album using primitive, yet effective harmonies. The guitar solo on Pimeä is also nicely understated and allows the music to flow on without disturbance.

The album then gets a little gentler and the Folk influence becomes more prominent. Jotunheim is a wistful and desolate track which ends on a more triumphant note, quite like the music on the previous album, Kivenkantaja. The last track is acoustic and comparatively simple, yet a necessary end to the album.

I give this album 4 stars because it isn't truly essential, but extremely enjoyable. I recommend this to anyone open to Extreme Progressive Metal. Be warned though- the progressive side of it is not incredibly strong.

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Send comments to popeyethecat (BETA) | Report this review (#180941)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Verisäkeet' - Moonsorrow (8/10)

Finnish epic metallers Moonsorrow have become one of my favourite bands as of late, and 'Verisäkeet' does not break the streak of awe and excellence the band has demonstrated with each past experience I've had with them. Moonsorrow have always been ones for drawn out folk metal epics and their heavy sense of ambition takes them great places here. A somewhat more raw and black metal-leaning album than what I have heard before from them, 'Verisäkeet' is yet another long album to get lost in. It may not be the most successful record they have churned out, but for its flaws and faults, 'Verisäkeet' comes through as a great album.

Unless you are a newcomer to the music of this band, track lengths often reaching the fifteen minute mark and beyond should not be any surprise from the band at this point. In that sense, they have not changed their style much. There are still lush orchestrations, extended and often detailed compositions, and a heavy folk element that puts Moonsorrow at the top of the pagan metal hierarchy. For the sake of 'Verisäkeet' though, there is more of a focus on raw black metal sounds than there are on other records, if even a bit. 'Verisäkeet' is far from being a simple record, but there are moments where it feels as if Moonsorrow are paying an homage to the black metal classics. The final minutes of the opener 'Karhunkynsi' even feature a close rendition of the Mayhem song 'De Mysteriis Dom Santhanas', which is always a bit of a shock to hear on an album that otherwise prides itself greatly on its grand scale and bombastic nature.

Although the folkier side of Moonsorrow's fanbase may find the darker, brooding sound of 'Verisäkeet' a bit offputting when compared to their other albums, it does work to bring a sadness in the band's voice that is just as emotionally stirring as their more triumphant approach. 'Verisäkeet's more to-the-point nature is not something I think works as well for Moonsorrow as when they decide to go all out with orchestrations, like with 'V: Havitetty'. Also, the album's cohesion becomes less of an issue when each song becomes so long, but the final track 'Kaiku' feels a tad unnecessary. Although it is a pleasant ballad, having a four minute acoustic piece (the final four minutes is left to tedious natural ambiance) trail such monstrous tracks beforehand feels somewhat underwhelming for a closer to what it otherwise an epic piece of music.

Despite the flaws that remain pronounced enough to clearly identify, Moonsorrow's fourth album remains a triumph. Moonsorrow have impressed me again.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#446816)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 9/10

Folk Metal's greatest achievement so far, where the word epic acquires a new meaning.

Moonsorrow's masterpiece "Kivenkataja" ended up being the tip of the iceberg: the follow up to that album is "Verisakeet", an album that is just as haunting and well done, although the two are completely two different beasts. But it is definite now that Moonsorrow are one of the best cult Metal bands of all time, thanks mostly to these two landmark achievements, and have not, so far, released an album that was less than really good.

Like it was mentioned, "Verisakeet" is completely different than "Kivenkantaja": the songs are significantly longer, less in quantity, richer in instrumentation, and boast beautiful production and polished sound. There is a more progressive approach in structuring these long winded, complex and diverse songs, where there is an even larger use of exotic, Nordic instrumentation. All of the instruments(flutes, acoustic guitars, flutes, or synthesizers) individually have a prominent place, somewhere here, in this more than an hour long experience. But there is also a significant amount of blast beats and traditional Black Metal here, and a certain passage can go on for several minutes without there being any Folk elements. Nevertheless, this is compensated by the moments in which these Folk elements are present, and they become absolutely essential for that particular passage. There are also, in the beginning and end of each song, some nice nature recordings: this last element gives the impression that legends, with the passing of time, fade in and fade out, but nature remains the same.

Compared to other Moonsorrow albums, "Verisakeet" is the one in which there are more nature themes; it is the most earthly LP of the band, still somewhat focused on battles, but more emotions, such as fear, are heavily connected with the lyrics, in a time before or after a tragic war. If "Karhunkynsi" narrates the pre-battle and how it is not wanted by the people fighting it, "Haaska" is about the devastating aftermath, describing the bleak battlefield, and how futile the event was. "Pimea" is the most pessimistic track, depicting a dying world, another typical latter Moonsorrow theme. The final words that to me are interesting in this album are the ones sung in the intimate "Kaiku", a brief elegy of forefathers.

Musically, each one of these songs is amazingly done, starting from the huge opener, the fourteen minute epic; possibly the heaviest, more Black Metal driven song, but it has massive riffs which reoccur in a beautifully studied way throughout the track, thanks also to great production and musicianship. The second track is less accessible but almost as high of a level and just as long, with more additional instrumentation ( the acoustic guitar gives the main hook for the entire song), more complex, more triumphant, but still of supremely high quality. "Pimea" is still another very long and intricate listen as a whole, with the glossy keyboards giving a strong addition to some melodies, but it has a handful of quite beautiful Folkloric moments, as well as haunting hooks played with either guitars or exotic instruments. "Jotunheim" mixes a huge amount of sounds together, as well as another handful of successful riffs, and amazing musicianship. What differs in this track is that it has a more climactic nature, but also it boasts the most emotionally challenging riffs of the album, them being very desolate sounding. When the final moments of this track, consisting of the routined nature recordings, blend in with the starting moments of "Kaiku", the final track, it is obvious that this amazing journey is coming to an end: this last track is a melancholically campfire-set acoustic jam between an intimate chorus of vocals and acoustic guitar.

"Verisakeet" is possibly the most complete and successful Moonsorrow release; it's possibly also the greatest, most important Folk Metal of all time. With more and more years increasing the album's age, it's quite possibly going to become a Metal classic. For now, this remains stuck in a somewhat cult status, but that doesn't diminish its quality one bit.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#756926)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Moonsorrow's Verisakeet is folky black metal (or perhaps blackened folk metal) I can get behind; rather than having folk instruments playing in a folk style whilst metal instruments play in a metal style, as some less satisfying folk metal groups do, here the group weave folk rhythms and motifs into the very fabric of their compositions, so the folk instruments play in a folk style during the quiet sections and the metal instruments play in a folk style during the loud sections. Progressively minded without being aggressively prog, Moonsorrow work nature sounds in here and there, going so far as to open and close album finale Kaiku (a more or less entirely folk-based number) with birdsong and other sounds of nature. Intriguing stuff.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#1003785)
Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2013 | Review Permalink

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