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Moonsorrow - Kivenkantaja CD (album) cover



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4 stars Well seeing that there are such few reviews of this great prog metal band I would have to review each album i have by this band starting with one of may favorites.

Kivenkantaja wich in english means Stonebearer is really a great album, the first one to feature keyboardist Markus Eurén, and their best for a long time. The music can be described as viking/black/epic/progressive metal, because this isn't a normal nordic metal album, is maybe the best folk inspired viking metal since Bathory, and is definetly one of the greatest records of the first decade of the 21 century in the prog metal scene.

The guitars play an important rol in this record but the keyboards are the ones that make this record outstanding and impressive, they are beautifull sometimes and other they create such an epic texture that makes you enter in a world of vikings and epic trips and wars; if Moonsorrow are unique for something is for tranport the listener into the vikings age by using folk elements in their music that only they could make sound this amzing in a black/viking metal record.

Another element that makes this viking trip more enjoyable are the epic choruses, when they use the choir to make incredible epic and very very enjoyable choruses such as the one of Jumalten Kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen Perintö or my personal favourite the one in Unohduksen Lapsi, this takes you in an ultimate trip to scandinavia and makes this album a really amazing extreme prog metal one.

Raunioilla: starts very quite with the sound of bells but then you can hear the first riff that is a very epic one too. The synths start to show with a very beautifull melody I think also with some accordion that is another great element of this band; the use of folk instruments that mke this band a really unique one. The song flows with incredible clean vocals by the band members accompained by the chorus and then the growls of Ville shows up. This great epic transpots us to the ruins as the translation of the title is At the Ruins, and is really a beautifull trip with many great riffs and some amazing solos, but the song turns a little bit repetitive at some point, until the great epilogue section that features some great keys and acustic guitar; the song ends with,again, the sound of bells. Amazing song even if not the best of the album! 8.5/10

Unohduksen Lapsi: This is what I was talking about! My personal favourite song from the album and for me the most progy song on the record. This song starts with the bells of the last song and a great brutal riff, wich leads us to one of the greatest vocal performances of Ville Sorvali. This song is definetly my favorite song of Moonsorrow not including the great epics! The chorus to this song is the best I've heard in a long time, and also it has some really epic keyboard sections and brutal and beautifull black metal riffs. The harmonies between guitars and the musicianship of this band really shows up in this song, making it one of the greatest metal bands I've heard since Opeth. The song ends in a pretty epic way after featuring some first class riffs the chorus shows up one more time and then the song ends with some gentle accordion accompained by some keys and then silence and dust.... 9.5/10

Jumalten Kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen Perintö: ....that leads us to another amazing song! This is somewhat of a fan-favourite between Moonsorrow fans and I can see why! This song sumarise what Moonsorrow is all about, this songng has almost everything this band is known for. It starts with a man talking and then is a great riff after another, and also some good keyboard lead and even some synth solos here and there. The chorus even if not better than the one in the previous song is really of epic proportions and shows the talent of the people of the chorus that really do a great job making this record a lot more enjoyable. The song progresses into metalmadness until there some peace but not for long because then a great growl provided by Sorvalli leads us to the final instrumental part that is real guitar madness until the en in wich the song fades out again with an accordion/keyboard solo. 9/10

Kivenkantaja: This song is again another great one even if it's not as epic as the first three. It starts with acustic guitar and accordion, and then you enter in a world of brutal violent growls until the end, no epic beautifull choruses here, this is the heaviest song on the album but it also has some great instrumental parts, even some short clean vocals interludes, and it also features great keyboards in almost all the song. Ville's voice is at it's top in this song and in the final part when he growls and the chorus sings Kivenkantaja!!! you can hear the great musicianship between the band and the chorus. Even if not the best song on the album it's a really good one and if not as epic as the others, is without a doubt the most brutal one! 8.5/10

Tuulen Tytär/Soturin Tie: This is an almost all instrumental song that showcase the folk talent of this band, they use all the instrumentation that they are known for and do a pretty good folk song well at least the first part. The second part transforms this in another great metal song after a piano interlude that leads our trip to unknown prog territory, this is one of the proggiest songs on the record and is really a relief after so much brutal viking metal. The part where the chorus sings is simply epic and beautiful, and then some gentle noises, when you think the song is about to end the drums lead you to The Way of the Warrior and the guitar shows up one more time and for the last time in this incredible record. 8/10

Matkan Lopussa: The last song on the album is a beautifull ballad showing guest vocalist Petra Lindberg, I think this song works as a farewell, saying goodbye to us all who have already expirienced this incredible record, is very beautifull and ends the album with a predominat element of it, because all the beautiful instrumentation and female vocals and the chorus makes this farewell really EPIC!!! a very good closing song really wich shows that this band can also do gentle, quite songs. 7.5/10

All in all this is an outstanding record that shows the talent this band has and has developed to an extent that now they have done a masterpiece of prog metal that is Viides Luku - Hävitetty their latest album. I recomend this to any fan of prog metal that can stand growls and also to any prog fan but again be aware of the growls, they used it a lot in this record so if you can't stand them this may be not the record for you.

If you want to like this band you better buy first some Opeth records as Watershed that doesn't have too much growls because if you can't stand them you definetly won't appreciate this record as the great album it is. Train your ears first!

Report this review (#178092)
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

"Kivenkataja", for it's beautiful profoundness, should be considered a landmark Metal album of the new millennium.

Moonsorrow are one of the greatest Metal bands of the new millennium and have proved to be so with several albums, one of them is the masterpiece "Kivenkataja", the third album, and the first album that is part of a trilogy of excellent works (the second one would be 2005's "Verisakeet" and the final chapter 2007's "V: Havitetty".) This 2003 release proves how Moonsorrow in two years have shown a great difference in songwriting skills, structuring songs and arranging them: "Kivenkataja" indeed is a 100% Moonsorrow album that shows all of the band's essential and best characteristics.

On one side, the style isn't different: we're talking about the usual, Pagan Black Metal/ Folk Metal influence here. But it's so much more complex, profound and epic than the previous two releases, (beating even the wonderful "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta") due to it's superior instrumentation, more progressive influences, and overall perfected songwriting skills. All this together makes up something more than just great album: "Kivenkataja" rightfully should be considered a landmark Metal LP of it's era, because of it's uniqueness, richness, and especially, it's haunting and evocative nature. Sure, Folkish instruments like the Jew Harp, accordion, flutes and many others were present in previous albums, however here, they have a major, essential role, and dominate completely some of the passages here, creating a well balanced equilibrium between the lush Folk moments and Black Metal influenced ones, which still have melodies driven by traditional Scandinavian canons. The Lyrics, being this Pagan Metal, although having pretty much the same themes as the first two albums, this time around are proposed and written in a much more poetic and vivid way: instead of focusing on battles and warriors, there is more detailed descriptions of nature, like in the opening track "Rauniolla". The tone is more the one of a lonely, forgotten bard of the North, instead perhaps of a drunk one from a noble palace telling hackneyed stories of warriors and battles fought. It basically feels more of a realistic point of view.

The album starts off with the thirteen minute epic "Rauniolla", quite possibly the best thing Moonsorrow has ever created: the melodies are, instead of being triumphant and full of testosterone, melancholic, a little resigned, solemn. Structured almost as a mini-suite, it features extremely diverse moments, from heavy riffs to beautifully evocative Folkloric ones. "Jumalten Kaupunki", the second track, is heavier, with less atmospheric moments, and with a more triumphant tone, however still maintaining an impressive level of complexity and depth. The following track is yet another sort of mini, ten minute suite, using however completely different formulas from the ones used in the previous two tracks, giving the structure of the overall album a great flow so far. The title track is more of a traditional Folk Metal track, more ballzy and in-your-face, but it also shows explicit Prog Metal influences especially in the frequent rhythm changes; "Tuulen Tytar" is a mostly instrumental piece, half calm, half distorted and loud. It certainly is the odd one out of these six tracks, and gives yet again another touch of variety in the sound. The album closes with the short but gorgeously crafted "Maktan Lopussa", a sad, beautiful, and very surprising song on behalf of Moonsorrow.

"Kivenkataja" has an amazing set of songs that together make one, solid and consistent album, despite the great amount of changes that distinguish one song from the other. One of the culminating peaks of Folk Metal music, a perfect model for all of the bands that are minimally interested in the genre.

Report this review (#756929)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am currently listening to a heck of a lot of Black Metal music and to me it's one of the most diverse genres of extreme metal out there. It's a varitety of sounds from Atmospheric Black Metal, Pagan/Viking Black Metal, a combination of Death and Black Metal, Gothic Black Metal and a bunch of other sub genres. Kivenkantaja is most definitely the Viking kind but a most Melodic one indeed. It's really a combination of Folk Metal and a Celtic style mood but done most epically.

The reason I rate Moonsorrow so highly - especially this album is that it's good music - death growls and all which create such an atmosphere that imagining the lands and culture from just listening to this album is so easy to conjour up in ones head and to me I think it's one of the most accessible of Black Scandinavian Metal.

It perfectly creates the loud and epic moments and merges the quieter more traditional folky moments together without ever seeming out of place. The band have got a fine keyboardist and multi instrumentalist in the form of Henri Sorvali from Finntroll, which is one way to make epic even more epic.

I personally rate every song as necessary and so perfectly formed and arranged that Metal as a whole is so much healthier for it and I have no hesitation in given this album the maximum rating of five. Also check out the following albums as Moonsorrow are no one hit wonders and keep getting better and better whilst adapting different styles at the same time, so treat yourself to this wonder of Extreme Metal.

Report this review (#1374424)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars I tend to find the whole "folk metal" thing highly hit and miss, particularly when bands don't integrate the two halves of that formula but simply play mediocre metal and mediocre folk music together and hope that the charms of both sides of the equation smooth over the holes. Moonsorrow's Kivenkantaja, on the other hand, absolutely does not do that, integrating the sounds and motifs of Scandinavian folk music into a majestic, sweeping, almost cinematic metal framework. The compositions tend towards longer tracks with epic, progressive rock-esque structures, and the overall effect wouldn't seem out of place as the soundtrack to an adaptation of some pagan saga of ancient days, which is more or less what they are going for, though at the same time they're treading such well-trod ground with so little new to say about it that I don't consider this essential.
Report this review (#1866035)
Posted Friday, January 12, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars MOONSORROW had already come a long way after starting as a laughable lumpen gathering of pissed off stray cats that found their way into the lo-fi underworld's recording studio but quickly found that black metal sounded a tad more original when played with Nordic folk and quaint drinking songs. While not the inventors of the style, the band nevertheless channeled its potential into more fertile grounds and added epic atmospheres, irresistible melodies and legendary subject matter revolving around Norse mythology, paganism and the world of the Vikings. While concocting a satisfying anthemic and heroic style on their first two albums "Suden Uni" and "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta," MOONSORROW suddenly got the progressive bug and created an even more intense larger than life album with the third release KIVENKANTAJA ("Stonebearer") which showcased a triumphant evolution in compositional fortitude and a knack for pulling out all the punches. Folk tinged extreme metal would never be the same.

In addition to the now established folk remedies and black metal bantering MOONSORROW found a new source of inspiration from neighboring Sweden in the form of Bathory's Viking metal classic "Hammerheart." Gone are the blatant drinking song jigs in grim reaper fashion and in are more nuanced compositions that offer the grandiloquence of galloping guitar riffs, epic percussive drive, synthesized cumulous cloud covers and chanting vocal exchanges that alternate between the raspy harsh metal vocals of Ville Sorvali and the powerful clean vocal style of Henri Sorvali backed up by a cranking choir effect. Vikings may have been Norse in origin but MOONSORROW with Finno-Ugric origins proves they have what it takes to summon the proper aural spectres to join their Western neighbors in a good game of pagan ritual worship and pilfering plunder but despite the Viking metal tag so carefully attached to their resume, the band itself insists that their style is nothing more than "epic heathen metal."

Epic indeed right from the getgo as vocal chants and atmospheric creeping is suddenly rudely interrupted by the twin guitar stomping power of Henri Sorvali's and Mitja Harvilahti's pristine precisionism as they navigate the choppy progressive Viking waters and chug out the percussive counterpoints in rhythmic mode save the stray guitar solo fluttering into the sonicscape. Likewise the melodic development is provided by the one two punch of the myriad vocalists in cahoots with the keyboards which provide not only the proper ambient brume of mood setting schemata but also cranks out the extra touches of horn instrument sounds as well as wild woodwinds. Sticking to the Viking metal playbook despite contempt for the term, MOONSORROW bedazzles and enchants with the lush tapestry of folk instrumentation heard from the accordion, jew's harp and fiddle (through the dirty little finger's of guest musician Jaakko Lemmetty "Hittavainen.) Add the fretted and fretless bass of Ville Sorvali, the multitude of electric, acoustic and 12-string guitar strums and the percussive prowess of the skin and cymbal smasher in chief, Marko Tarvonen and most a exciting sonic storm is guaranteed to please the metalhead's sensibiltiies.

Stretched out into five tracks of epic heathen metal splendor, KIVENKANTAJA is stuff that far reaching progressively inclined metal dreams are made of. While the Gregorian chant rich opening "Rauniolla (At The Ruins)" provides a rather gentle false sense of tranquility, the following "Unohduksen Lapsi (Child Of Oblivion)" provides the proper soul crushing metal bombast to keep the headbangers happy all the while layers of synth-drenches atmospheric touches ooze by in the background as the guitars stomp their way into the heat of battle. KIVENKANTAJA is where the classic sound of MOONSORROW gelled into its permanent state of awesomeness as all the ingredients and simmered down into a delectable stew of metal palatability. While the album keeps a great pace of mixing the heavier elements with the softer more sensual folk remedies, the final track provides a departure with a pure Pagan folk ritual along with the feminine divine goddess charm of guest vocalist Petra Lindberg. KIVENKANTAJA is equally as divine without missing a beat and cemented MOONSORROW's status as one of the premier folk metal bands of the millennium.

4.5 rounded down

Report this review (#2119361)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Extreme Metal with European Folk flavors.

This is my first taste of this Finnish band. Considered to be Pagan Metal, I'm utterly unsurprised I have no clue about any of the 'related bands' I'm seeing.

"Rauniolilla" initially sounds like a traditional Nordic tune ramped up. Pretty grandiose. Clean group vocals atop big, folksy instrumentation are juxtaposed with pretty classic metal riffage and unclean (sort of Blackened) vocals. I was definitely beginning to warm up to things around the midpoint--again, I didn't even know what I was getting myself into this morning. It's around 11 minutes, through to the end, that we get more of a glimpse into their progressive leanings with soft synth lead melody.

With the striking of a bell, we are led into "Unohduksen lapsi", more overtly Black Metal vocally. The main riff is crisp and is met with what sounds like a backing string ensemble. Once more showing off any progressive tinges via a quieted section near the middle featuring synth lead. It's good, but not, really, overly progressive or intriguing to those (like me, I presume) looking in from without.

"Jumalten kaupunki including Tuhatvuotinen Perintö" certainly has an interesting intro... What wins this song, if anything, is the layering of all the pieces. The thing is, these sonic choices don't necessarily grab me as listener.

Compositionally speaking, the first track to pull me in a little deeper is "Kivenkantaja", but once more, sonically speaking, I'm not really drawn all that much to Moonsorrow. They're clearly very talented, but it's just not feeling like it's for me.

Another that draws is "Tuulen tytär including Soturin tie", a very Euro-folksy tune that feels like it could also fit within the scope of the Highlands; I suppose this makes sense. A shared sense of atmosphere with the Nords haha. It continues to build on this singular theme though, and doesn't rise much higher. Good song. Not great. [If it's not been clear, that's been my judgement for most of these tracks.]

Finally, we have "Matkan lopussa" [I'm sorry. Are these capital "I's" or lowercase "L's"??? haha.] This is a quieted closer, with what sounds like accordion, female vocal lead and group vocals that are most ethereal. Quite atmospheric.

There ya have it. I'm officially the lowest rating reviewer here. I'll continue on, but... I'm not won over.

Report this review (#2676546)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | Review Permalink

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