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MOONSORROW

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Finland


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Moonsorrow biography
Founded in Helsinki, Finland in 1995 - Still active as of 2019

Moonsorrow was founded in 1995 in Helsinki Finland by the Sorvali cousins, Henri (guitar and keyboards; he is also a member of Finntroll) and Ville (vocals and bass). They proceeded to record four demos until 1998; two of them disappeared and the two others are "Metsä" from 1997 and "Tämä ikuinen talvi" from 1998. The music on these was more of black metal compared with what was to be made by the band on their albums. This latter demo made it possible for them to gain a recording contract with Plasmatica Records. At this point Marko Tarvonen joined the band to take hold of the drumming and percussions position. This lineup recorded in 2000 their first full length Suden uni (A Wolf's Dream). Their demo Tämä ikuinen talvi was also re-released alongside the album in 2001. This first album got a re-issue in 2003 with a bonus track, alternate cover art and a DVD. In 2000 two musicians were invited as session members and were then invited to join the band: Mitja Harvilahti (guitars) and Markus Eurén (keyboards). This lineup proceeded to perform live and also to record and release in 2001 the album Voimasta ja kunniasta (Of Strength and Honour) through a new label, Spikefarm Records.
It was the followup to that album, Kivenkantaja (Stonebearer) released in 2003, that got them the wide attention in Finland and beyond; it reached the 16th place on Finnish album charts. A short break followed this period with their first abroad show in 2004 and then in 2005 the release of Verisäkeet (Blood Verses). This album reached the 18th position in the Finnish charts. In 2006 the band did a European tour alongside Primordial from Ireland. In 2007 came Viides luku - Hävitetty (Chapter five - Ravaged) which shows another progression in their style, having on it only two songs, each one half an hour long. This was followed by touring in Finland and around the world.

Moonsorrow's origins are in Black Metal but have progressed from it, preserving its roots but expanding on it, giving it an epic feel in the majestic and grandiose sound of it, and the length of the songs and also a folk characteristic Finnish paganism. It was termed Viking Metal (along bands like Thyrfing, Einherjer, Ensiferum, Turisas, Falkenbach and others) which are black metal in basis, but add much melodiness to their sound, an epic feel and anthemic choruses and a specific lyrical content. They have progressed with each release, t...
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Jumalten AikaJumalten Aika
Limited Edition
Century Media 2016
$20.91
$9.18 (used)
V: HAVITETTYV: HAVITETTY
BLOOD MUSIC 2017
$19.99
$27.23 (used)
KivenkantajaKivenkantaja
Spinefarm Records 2008
$39.99 (used)
VerisakeetVerisakeet
Season of Mist 2006
$65.92
$25.78 (used)
Varjoina KuljemmeVarjoina Kuljemme
Spinefarm 2011
$22.53
$11.94 (used)
VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTAVOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA
BLOOD MUSIC 2017
$21.90
$27.23 (used)
KIVENKANTAJAKIVENKANTAJA
BLOOD MUSIC 2017
$16.44
$27.92 (used)
Viides Luku: HavitettyViides Luku: Havitetty
Unruly Sounds 2007
$62.53
$14.41 (used)
Suden UniSuden Uni
DRAKK 2008
$20.36
$14.95 (used)
V. HavitettyV. Havitetty
Spikefarm 2007
$40.95
$20.95 (used)
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MOONSORROW discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MOONSORROW top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.77 | 41 ratings
Suden Uni
2001
3.79 | 45 ratings
Voimasta Ja Kunniasta
2001
4.25 | 79 ratings
Kivenkantaja
2003
4.02 | 62 ratings
Verisäkeet
2005
4.21 | 78 ratings
Viides Luku - Hävitetty
2007
3.84 | 58 ratings
Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
2011
3.83 | 55 ratings
Jumalten Aika
2016

MOONSORROW Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MOONSORROW Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MOONSORROW Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MOONSORROW Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.18 | 3 ratings
Metsä
1997
4.80 | 5 ratings
Tämä Ikuinen Talvi
1999
3.88 | 26 ratings
Tulimyrsky
2008

MOONSORROW Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Kivenkantaja by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.25 | 79 ratings

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Kivenkantaja
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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

 Voimasta Ja Kunniasta by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.79 | 45 ratings

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Voimasta Ja Kunniasta
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Considering themselves 'epic heathen metal,' the Helsinki, Finland based MOONSORROW followed in the footsteps of bands like Skyclad and Amorphis to incorporate local folk music flavors into extreme metal and in the process found ways to carve a new niche for themselves. While the band began more as a Norwegian second wave black metal clone, brothers Ville and Henri Sorvali really stepped up their game for the debut 'Suden Uni,' which showcased a more sophisticated approach of melding together the aforementioned elements however on their sophomore album VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA ('Of Strength And Honor'), MOONSORROW really took a quantum leap in quality and although i didn't find the debut the least bit uninteresting, on this this one a new synthesis of the disparate sounds certainly did rise to the next level.

While 'Suden Uni' was profound, VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA introduces the world to a more epic approach of black metal and ethnic folk fusion with a step towards more progressive pastures. One of the distinguishing features of this second full-length offering is the arrival of second guitarist Mitja Harvilahti who along with Henri Sorvali gives the band a much fuller twin guitar attack sound. Dare i say that VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA also dishes out much more memorable folk hooks as well? Everything seems to click for the band and their much lauded and idiosyncratic approach to folk metal comes into fruition here. Except for the short instrumental intro, the tracks are quite lengthy ranging from seven and a half minutes to nearly fourteen, however the repetitive folk hooks are mesmerizing even as the black metal bombast pummels the senses.

Generally speaking, MOONSORROW at this stage are clearly a black metal band with the characteristic traits of orotundity that includes incessant tempos, buzzsaw guitar action and tremolo picking as well as shred vocals, percussive blastbeats and muddy distortion however the folk elements take it into an entirely new direction and not just for novelty's sake. This is a true marriage of ethnic folk and black metal. The folk aspects take the metal into more melodic sophistication that allow the chord progressions to carry a deeper meaning as well as the keyboard rich atmospheric backdrops that have been toned down since the previous album. While 'Suden Uni' allowed clean vocal non-metal segments to find their way into the mix, VOIMASTA JA KNNIASTA is pretty much an intense black metal fusion all the way through with only a smattering of acoustic guitar intros and breakdowns popping up from time to time. Clean vocals are reserved for the backing vocals only.

MOONSORROW mastered here a nice collection of five tracks that each have a distinct personality. Some such as 'Hiidenpelto - H'pe'n Hiljaiset Vedet ('Field of the Devil/The Silent Waters of Shame") focus more on the melodic developments while some like 'Aurinko ja Kuu (The Sun And The Moon)' break out a more thrashy metal heft and emphasis on the heaviness without sacrificing the folk intricacies. The true treat is saved for last as the sprawling epic 'Sankarihauta (Warrior's Tale)' begins with sensual ocean wave sounds and slinks on through several developing features which include a health dose of blackened folk metal prowess, a distinct folkened melodic escapade sallies forth into the heat of battle and nice a alternating mix of atmospheric oomf between the metal stomps and acoustic folk inserts. Overall VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA is an excellent development in MOONSORROW's history but personally i don't think it's better, just a nice different path to embark upon.

 Kivenkantaja by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.25 | 79 ratings

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Kivenkantaja
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 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.
 Suden Uni by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.77 | 41 ratings

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Suden Uni
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars After a string of demos proving that they had what it took to master the art of becoming mere black metal clones of their Norwegian neighbors, the Finnish Pagan folk metal band MOONSORROW that formed in 1995 in Helsinki had differentiated themselves enough from the pack and released their debut album as the old millennium was swallowed up by the Northern lights and a new change of guard had occurred. While present on the demos, the Pagan folk elements were obscured in a lo-fi cacophonous din of buzzsaw feedback and pissed cat screams. On their debut album SUDEN UNI ("Wolf's Dream") cousins Ville Sorvali and Henri Sorvali added on Marko Tarvonen for percussion as well as an army of guests who provide nothing more than handclaps!

Right from the very first track "Ukkosenjumalan poika" ("Son of the God of Thunder") it's clear that MOONSORROW had latched onto a style that is theirs alone. While the black metal is as ferocious as ever with heavily distorted guitar and bass fuzziness, the compositions are now composed as Pagan folk melodies that utilize epic hummable catchiness with the black metal augmenting the intensity into overdrive and often dominating to the point where the folk is buried. While the band would prove shortly to blend these elements together even more seamlessly with their second album of the same year "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta," the result of the blending of blatant folk melodies on keyboard, accordion and mouth harp in full company of black metal shrieks, guitar fury and the insane drumming prowess of Tarvonen was quite novel at the time and is quite satisfying even at this early stage as it seems once MOONSORROW hit pay dirt with their signature sound that any variations of their elements dominating was secondary to the strength of the compositions churned out.

At this point MOONSORROW hadn't quite ventured into the world of progressive metal as with their later releases but the tracks on SUDEN UNI are ripe for the picking as each track exudes an epic feel with several extended length tracks clocking in over six minutes with the profound "1065: Aika" just squeaking over the eleven minute mark. On SUDEN UNI the beauty is in the pacing of the elements as each synth drenched moody atmosphere builds up intensity as the guitars and drum fury are coaxed from their reticence and then allowed to unleash hypnotic fury into the musical patterns that provide a simultaneous epic charm and sonic assault. Ville Sorvali's vocals have improved big time as his pissed off cat shrieks have become more distinguished shrieks and offers some clean vocal Viking metal moments as well although the band dislike that term and insist on being referred to as Pagan black folk metal.

For me SUDEN UNI is not a weak debut in the least despite the elements not being as neatly tucked together as cleverly as on future albums. This one is more straightforward in nature but not one bit less satisfying and actually sounds more diverse than some of the epic albums with sprawling never-ending tracks like "V: Hävitetty." SUDEN UNI has been released in two significant forms. The first release with the fire orange album cover with a ghostly wolf howling into the blood red horizon and re-released in 2003 with the cover art i prefer with a human body donning a wolf's head holding a spiral-ended staff of some sort. This edition includes the bonus track "Tulkaapa äijät!" ("Come Along, Fellows!") which is probably the closest thing to a black metal drinking song that MOONSORROW has ever recorded. While not a vital experience in relationship to the rest of the album since it doesn't have the epic feel, it nonetheless is a nice little lighthearted (black metal style) closer. SUDEN UNI is hardly a throwaway debut release. This is a major step from the demo laden abyss from whence they came and a true declaration of blackened folk metal innovation.

 Jumalten Aika by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.83 | 55 ratings

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Jumalten Aika
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars MOONSORROW has carved out a unique niche in the extreme metal world having successfully positioned itself equidistantly smack dab in the middle between the world of black metal and the pagan Finnish folk music that is the source of their inspiration and philosophical outlook. On the black metal side from whence they sprung forth, they have kept many (if not all) of its aesthetics including the corpse paint visual effect, the intense distorted buzz saw wall of noise along with the other ubiquitous black metal elements such as blastbeats and raspy snarled vocals too buried beneath the din to discern all the while wrapped up in chaotic swirls of extreme Viking intensity. They have nurtured these attributes quite well over time never letting the incremental intrusions of the stronger folk elements or slicker production ever once distract from the overall goal of remaining firmly in the extreme shopping section of the greater metal universe. After a long five year wait for rabid fans foaming at the mouth awaiting a followup to 2011's "Varjoina Kulijemme Kuolleiden Maassa," they release their 7th full-length epic black folk metal JUMALTEN AIKA ("The Age Of Gods") and prove that their style seems to have no limits in how to expand into ever widening arenas without significantly changing the core of the band's sound.

One of the most surprising things about MOONSORROW is that it's never really a surprise as to what kind of album they will release. They dutifully check off every single element that defines their sound that began way back on "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta" and adamantly adhere to the formula set forth ever since. That usual formula has consisted of sprawling ten minute plus epic tracks that commence with slow atmospheric build ups that erupt into black metal fury wrapped around Finnish folk metal song structures and then draw out and eke every possible variation from every single cadence possible. In this aspect JUMALTEN AIKA is absolutely identical to previous albums where all these elements pretty much develop in identical fashion. The most surprising thing to me with JUMALTEN AIKA is exactly how gracefully MOONSORROW expands these set standards and create an album even more lush and brutal than its predecessors in a seemingly effortless and logical way. First of all, the song structures are stronger with deep earwormy hooks that sink in deep from the get go and the magical chemistry of the atmospheric keyboards, black metal guitar, bass and drum fury accompanied by the folk aspects that include violin, flute, accordion and mouth harp just play so very very well together.

One of the things that takes JUMALTEN AIKA into slightly more elevated territory is the supreme production aspects along with a more heightened sense of folk and symphonic elements including a larger roster of chorus vocal contributions in addition to the five permanent members of the band. While the black metal has been beaten into submission as to maintain the harsh brutality of that respective world, the folk and symphonic characteristics have been given more of a free rein in creating a more polished sound than before. If that wasn't enough MOONSORROW has certainly attained a state of maturity that allows them the luxury of knowing just how long to let a passage linger before it outstays its welcome as well as knowing when to let certain aspects drop out as to let others shine. I have to admit that i seldom have hope that MOONSORROW will find the gumption to keep their set sound fresh and relevant in the contemporary metal universe but i have to fully admit that with JUMALTEN AIKA they have surprised me and am in awe of their ability to take the slower burner approach of slightly upping their elements incrementally from one album to next by staying true to their core sound but expanding from within in totally logical arrangements.

MOONSORROW once again proves that they are masters of their unique amalgamation of Finnish folk and black metal. As they transcend from one stage of their existence to another, they remain firmly planted in their philosophical roots and only adding new elements to their sound where they are appropriate for inclusion. While as always, all lyrics are in their native Finnish language but the feel and instrumental prowess successfully dictates a story in the making regardless. While the album and first title track JUMALTEN AIKA ("The Age Of Gods") begins the journey, the final track "Ihmisen Aika (The Age of Humans)" shows the culmination of a musical pilgrimage that brings forth the pagan folk philosophies that the usurpation of human introduced technologies imposing their will upon long established "godly" traditions as evidenced in the natural world will bring about a dystopian existence. As with every MOONSORROW release, i'm very much impressed by their style of seamless fusion of folk and black metal and even in awe of their philosophies of sort but never quite finding myself wanting to bestow upon them the credit of creating a masterpiece of the ages. There is always something albeit imperceivibly identifiable missing in that regard but nevertheless this dilemma prevents me from doing so. But that doesn't mean i don't love listening to their music time and time again!

Personally i have the limited edition digibook that has an extra CD with two bonus cover tracks. While i would hardly recommend these covers by Grave and Rotting Christ to be worthy of shelling out the extra dough to get the upgraded version, i do have to say that the inclusion of the beautifully embroidered patch that depicts the album cover is totally awesome! BTW that extra CD is a mere 8 minutes and 28 seconds so it does seem a little gimmicky to include it. They could have at least included some live or unreleased material. So unless you REALLY want a patch, stick to the original five track version. Personally this album is a winner and a top 5 in the year of 2016 for yours truly :) Sorrow Finntroll and other weaklings of the underworld. This band has your asses beat big time!

4.5 stars but rounded down

 Metsä by MOONSORROW album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
2.18 | 3 ratings

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Metsä
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars The origins of MOONSORROW go all the way back to 1995 when cousins Ville Sorvali (vocals, bass) and Henri Sorvali (guitar, keyboards) hooked up in Helsinki, Finland to form a simple melodic black metal band. Before they would introduce the Nordic and Slavic folk elements to their music they started out as a run-of-the-mill 90s black metal band as heard on this early demo turned remastered EP "Metsä." At this point the band was merely a duo with the two cousins handling all vocal and instrumental duties.

While the music is the typical atmospheric keyboard drenched buzz saw feedback distortionfest black metal of the era complete with a two minute atmospheric ambient chill out session, there are faint traces of folk influences that would later dominate such as the inclusion of the mouth harp in their otherwise standard Pagan and spiritually themed melodic metal marches. As with all MOONSORROW albums even to this day, everything is totally in the Finnish language, so if you're not hip to this top dog of Finno-Ugric languages then the meaning will be shrouded in incomprehensible mystery however with screeched lyrics like this it would be impossible to discern any meaning.

In addition to the four tracks feeling amateurish, the production value is fairly weak as well which for some may be an attraction, however the great promise of a melodic black metal band is born here and it's clear that even though this is hardly an essential edition of their discography that the song structures are decent and the keyboards provide more than just a subdued frosting to the cake and actually contribute a significant portion to the overall dynamics. Many reviewers compare the vocals to a pissed off cat and i couldn't think of a better comparison myself. Better things were to come but this is an interesting historical artifact for those who like to dig deep.

2.5 rounded down

 Jumalten Aika by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.83 | 55 ratings

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Jumalten Aika
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Jumalten aika' - Moonsorrow (85/100)

Moonsorrow are one of the most consistent bands in metal history. They've built their sound around elevating folk metal conventions to a scope rivalling Western classical music, and they've done managed to do so without skipping a single mark in their career. Everyone will have their favourites (V: Hävitetty holds a particularly special place for me) but the fact remains that the band's reputation encourages high expectations. With each new album it's expected that Moonsorrow will reinvent the folk metal template somehow, and that they'll achieve that by means of an epic scope and masterful execution.

Jumalten aika is certainly masterful. It's also easily the most epic sound bite yet released in 2016. Once again, Moonsorrow get across the impression of being a full-bodied folk metal symphony. The compositions are lavish and involved, and no expense has been spared on fleshing out the arrangement with authentic and nuanced sound. I don't think I'd have needed to hear Jumalten aika to be able to describe the album as such. Was any part of Jumalten aika really a surprise?

This is just the sort of album I could expect from Moonsorrow. All of the things I've loved about their past work are here as well. Such as it is, Jumalten aika was one of those rare cases where I felt like I'd heard the music before from my first listen onward. Five years was a long time to wait for a new album, but from the sounds here, they've made it worth the while. Strangely enough, despite my initial thought being that every expectation had been met, Jumalten aika's been one of the biggest growers in their discography for me. Essentially structured as a journey spread across four epics and a shorter song, it takes a few listens for the wealth of musical detail to really sink in.

One of Moonsorrow's greatest strengths has been their ability to lend appropriate weight to longer songwriting. Structured similarly to Verisäkeet, Jumalten aika is best seen as a single journey, with four epics each comprising a movement in the bigger picture. Like Verisäkeet, the latest work offers an opportunity for Moonsorrow's black metal affectations to shine through. "Ruttolehto" and "Mimisbrunn" come close to Nokturnal Mortum in the way black metal is incorporated with the pagan folk textures. Riffs and earworms tend to take a backseat to the cinematic atmosphere and bombastic arrangements. Even so, while the album took a few spins to grow, it's never inaccessible. The album hits hard and immediately, and repeated listening has only nurtured my appreciation. For all the influence they've taken from progressive rock, Moonsorrow have escaped all of its pomp and pretensions.

Of the five tracks, "Ruttolehto" and "Mimisbrunn" are the two that really stand out. All of the pieces here are superb, but those two are the ones that could rival anything else the band has done. "Ruttolehto" pairs off pagan black metal passages with longform Finnish folk and Bathory-type anthemry. True to tradition, the different parts of a composition flow together organically. Moonsorrow escape a lot of the common pitfalls of writing epics. "Mimisbrunn" is less over-the-place than "Ruttolehto", but for the way it builds and triumphantly erupts, it could well be my favourite track ever from them.

I remember being really disappointed when I heard the single "Suden tunti" prior to the album's release. Now that I've heard the full album, the track seems to gracefully accept its role as the intentional lowpoint. It may be a sight plodding, but the more rock-oriented approach is a welcome respite from the more involved material. "Suden tunti" is a worthy plateau to an album that's been structured like a mountain. If "Ruttolehto" and "Mimisbrunn" represent the treacherous slopes, the first and last tracks represent ground. Jumalten aika doesn't achieve quite as many of the eargasmic moments of Verisäkeet or V: Hävitetty, but it's graced with a near-impeccable sense of flow.

Despite their instantly identifiable sound, I could always count on hearing evolution in Moonsorrow's work. See: The difference between the folk-proggy Kivenkantaja and the balls-out aggression on Verisäkeet, or the way they tightened themselves up on Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa following the sprawling V: Hävitetty. If I needed to ascribe a negative trait to this latest album, it'd be that I don't feel like Moonsorrow have pushed their sound forward this time around. In many ways, it actually sounds like they tried to retread the territory on Verisäkeet rather than to reinvent themselves once again. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. As much as Jumalten aika could have been more individually memorable with its "own" sound, the return to Moonsorrow's best sound cannot be a bad thing. They're approaching their art with all of the same tact and inspiration as you might expect. The only difference is that the experience is already familiar this time around.

The progression from "Jumalten aika" ("The Age of Gods") to "Ihmisen aika" ("The Age of Men") makes a simple, but powerful statement about paganism and belief in general. Moonsorrow are incredibly rooted in history and folk culture, but I can't help but interpret the theme of the album as being very relevant to the modern world. How are spiritual beliefs supposed to survive in the face of liberal scepticism and science? And perhaps more importantly, how is an authentic connection with nature possible in an increasingly digital, industrialized society? The end of an "age of gods" may carry cynical undertones, but ample proof of hope lies in the music itself. This is organic, folkish, nature-oriented art, and no 21st century travails have seen fit to rob Moonsorrow of their power.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical

 Viides Luku - Hävitetty by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.21 | 78 ratings

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Viides Luku - Hävitetty
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AndyJ

5 stars Moonsorrow's 'V: Hävitetty' is an absolutely fantastic album by one of progressive metals most innovative and creative bands. I purchased this when it first came out in 2007 and to this day it has remained an album which receives regular attention from me. So what makes this so good? In one word - "atmosphere".

'Hävitetty' is absolutely drenched in atmosphere, you are transported away to a medieval battlefield, to blood and sweat and grime - into a different world entirely. Never before have I heard an album with such a fantastic feel as this one; it conjures up dark images and foreboding scenes, a pagan world filled with spirits and gloom. When you hear those first opening sounds of the fire burning and the acoustic guitar from the opening track, 'Jäästä Syntynyt / Varjojen Virta', the shivers run up your spine in anticipation of what is to come. This is an album where you lose track of time, you become utterly absorbed in the music, and you savour every single moment of it.

So what about the music then? Moonsorrow are an extreme metal band, there is no getting away from that, and this album is no exception. There are some utterly devastating slabs of metal in this album, some real head-banging moments where you will be reaching for a sword and shield ready to plunge yourself head first into battle! At times the music is primal and raw. But its also so very clever, and brilliantly executed. Moonsorrow aren't just a metal band, they have elements of folk music, traditional Scandinavian music and are extremely progressive, no more so than in this record. There are clean vocals, heavy extreme vocals, there are soft guitar passages and full on nuclear assault distortion guitar.

If you hadn't heard this band before you might be thinking, based on this description above, "So they are a bit like Opeth, right?". Not at all. Whilst both Opeth and Moonsorrow are classed as extreme prog metal, they are totally different in so many ways. I think Opeth are more refined as a band, but Moonsorrow are far, FAR more atmospheric and better at developing a consistent theme throughout a piece of music. Moonsorrow are also a band which have always written their lyrics in their mother tongue, Finnish. And I absolutely love them for doing this! They have remained true to who they are and where they come from, commercial considerations be damned!

But going back to the music on here, what makes 'Hävitetty' so good is the consistency across the two tracks. These don't feel like multiple 5 minute songs stitched together to create longer music. The two songs on this album are completely unified and feel utterly consistent throughout. Themes are revisited, the music progresses but also harks back to earlier concepts and melodies. Unfortunately for fans of Moonsorrow, like myself, they have never played the first song live, and have only played the second song from this album very sparingly. The two songs here were definitely made for the album format, and not as live material.

I consider the first track to be ever so slightly better than the second track, but both are brilliant. This is one of my favourite recordings by any band, and probably my favourite metal album ever, progressive or otherwise! Easily 5-stars.

 Kivenkantaja by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.25 | 79 ratings

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Kivenkantaja
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Alucard Draco

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.

 Verisäkeet by MOONSORROW album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.02 | 62 ratings

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Verisäkeet
Moonsorrow Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Moonsorrow's Verisakeet is folky black metal (or perhaps blackened folk metal) that has a bit more staying power with me than many examples of the folk metal subgenre; 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; on repeated listens, I find that on balance it's not really my cup of tea, but I'm more inclined to recommend it than many other examples of the folk metal genre.
Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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