Jumalten aika (Age of Gods): Moonsorrow

Rating: 95%

jumalten_aikaIn 2016, Moonsorrow released “Jumalten aika (Age of Gods).” This album is among one of their best projects to date. The influences of folk and classical music blending with their style of Black Metal is amazing. That is what makes this album so epic from start to finish. The songs are on the lengthy side, but Moonsorrow always seems to make the the music interesting and never allows the music to get bogged down with phony background noise of false instruments. Because of that, the song structures are very well written.

Musically, this album has some interesting melodies that are centered around classic Black Metal traits. When you hear flutes, mouth harps, and other acoustical string instruments playing along side of the distorted guitars and harsh music, the songs themselves have a bigger sound to them. Moonsorrow seems to work all that to their advantage. That is where the word “Epic” seems best described the material. The melody and choirs are done perfectly from song to song. Each song carries the listener on a journey.

This album lacks two minor things. The vocals seem a tad in the distance, but everything else as far as instrumentation is perfectly heard. Secondly, the sound of the music seems to follow “Verisäkeet” rather than evolving into something new. But these are little things.

Musicianship to me is still at it’s best.  Bassist and lead vocalist Ville Sorvali again just nails it. His style of vocals and bass will surely influence another generation of musicians who are looking at this mastering this style of Black Metal. Even his style of vocals seem to get better with age. Pounding on the drums is the very talented Marko Tarvonen. I love his style of drumming. On the axes are Henri Sorvali and Mitja Harvilahti. These guys help to create the huge epic sound. Rounding out the spot on keyboards is  Markus Eurén.

If you haven’t heard this album yet, you’re missing out on one of the best new heavy metal albums of 2016. This album is fantastic and is one of the best Moonsorrow albums to date. Don’t pass this one by.

Track listing:

1. “Jumalten aika” The Age of Gods 12:43
2. “Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän päivän kansa” Plague Grove incl. People of the Dayless Day 15:21
3. “Suden tunti” Wolf’s Hour 7:06
4. “Mimisbrunn” Mímir’s Well 15:55
5. “Ihmisen aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen)” The Age of Man (A Bow into Darkness) 16:00
6. “Soulless” (Grave cover; bonus track) 3:18
7. “Non Serviam” (Rotting Christ cover; bonus track) 5:10

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Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa (As Shadows We Walk in the Land of the Dead): Moonsorrow

Rating: 95%

Varjoina_kuljemme_kuolleiden_maassa.jpgIn 2011, Moonsorrow released “Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa.”  I have always respected Moonsorrow for their huge epic and powerful sound. And this album doesn’t disappoint. Moonsorrow has added a another great noteworthy album to their discography. Although, consistent with regards to their genre, Moonsorrow seems to make it work well. The only disappointment that I have with this album is the small fillers or the interludes that are under two minutes long. I know that those interludes lead into the much larger sagas.

Musicianship is very good. The guitar riffs, the bass lines and the powerful drumming along with the keyboards gives this album a great full sound. Vocally, this is another great piece. Although, this album lacks lead guitars, it’s still a great album. Each musician is very talented and each brings that piece to the band that is needed to make a great Heavy Metal band.

Song structures are intense. Moonsorrow doesn’t disappoint when it comes to blending elements of Black Metal and Folk influenced melodies together. The music is very full, rich and filled with content. Each song, excluding the interludes, are vibrant and in some cases sound very complex. For their length, it’s almost as if you’re on a journey that never disappoints. I still love the large choir and the orchestra mixed with those Folk instrumentation. The jaw harp is another added touch that makes the music. There’s lot’s of great melodies and yes, harmony.

This album is not only a great Moonsorrow album, but it’s also a great Folk Metal album too. Moonsorrow is one of those bands that continues to define this genre that we call a sub-genre of Black Metal into it’s own category.

Track listing:

1. “Tähdetön” Starless 12:44
2. “Hävitetty” Ravaged 1:34
3. “Muinaiset” The Ancient Ones 11:43
4. “Nälkä, väsymys ja epätoivo” Hunger, Weariness and Despair 1:12
5. “Huuto” The Scream 15:58
6. “Kuolleille” For the Dead 1:35
7. “Kuolleiden maa” The Land of the Dead 16:22

Kivenkantaja (“Stonebearer”): Moonsorrow

Rating: 90%

moonsorrowIn 2003, Moonsorrow released their third album entitled “Kivenkantaja.”  This album is a bit different than their previous albums with regards that it add a dash of Progressive Metal into their main sound of Folk Black Metal. The end result isn’t to bad. When I first heard this album, I had mixed feelings about it musically. To me, there seemed to be some minor flaws in the overall production and then it hit me. It was the Prog influences that I was hearing. Knowing that, I went back and re-listened to it and this time around, I really enjoyed this album. But some of the flaws are still there.

First, this album seems to lack a bit of the raw edge to the overall approach. However, with that said, the album has a lot of content and is full. The mixing just doesn’t do the album justice. But that is only on a few of the songs. The vocals seem to be pushed further into the background rather than more toward the front of the music. Secondly, the overall keyboards also seem to be lacking a bit with regards to adding to that epic sound. But then again, this could be from the Prog influences that I hear. Some of the riffs are a bit weak.

But what this album lacks, there are other strong areas that make this album really unique and enjoyable. For one, the epic sound and song structures are there. Moonsorrow really does a great job when it comes to balancing the Folk and Black Metal portions of their genre.  I really do like the longer songs that Moonsorrow does and how they manage to not bog it down as they keep playing. Secondly, I enjoy the way Moonsorrow  adds that traditional sound of Folk into their music. There’s nothing like hearing a heavy and distorted song and then without notice, the Folk instrumentation begins to play. It makes the music more of a journey and adds to the listening experience. When the album is finished, it leaves you wanting to hear more. This quality is missing from many of the Black Metal bands out there.

Musically, again, this is a good album as I mentioned. The song structures are well balanced and defined. Some of the structures are complex. So let’s break it down. The first track, “Raunioilla” has the sound and introduction of a classic Moonsorrow song. It’s long, slow and heavy. But then you hear the accordion setting the melody and adding harmony to the overall sound. The overall vocal work does seem to be in the background. The overall musicianship is very good.

“Unohduksen lapsi” took me a while to warm up to. This is where you really hear the Prog influences. There’s a lot of weird riffs and timing going on during the bridges. But, this song although, has a heavy sound to it, the guitars seem to be not as strong. The melody does flow nicely. It does have a strong orchestra background to it.

“Jumalten kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen perintö”  is a fantastic song. Lot’s of good instrumentation. The bridge is very weird leading into the chorus. But, the choirs are excellent. “Kivenkantaja” is a fun journey and is a classic Moonsorrow song. The arrangements are fantastic. I love the epic and big sound that this song has.

“Tuulen tytär/Soturin tie” I absolutely love. It begins with a rolling of the piano keys. That’s right, Black Metal done with beauty. It follows with the accordion and simple sticks keeping the beat. The jaw harp comes in. About a 1/3 of the way through the song, the electric heavy riffs come in. I love the almost spoken lyric and the strong beefy chorus.

“Matkan lopussa” is the last track which features Petra Lindberg performing the female vocals. This song is fantastic and is well done. The accordion and jaw harp really makes the mood of the song. Combined by the big male choirs.

Track listing:

1. “Raunioilla” (“At the Ruins”) 13:36
2. “Unohduksen lapsi” (“Child of Oblivion”) 08:17
3. “Jumalten kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen perintö” (“City of the Gods/A Thousand Years of Heritage”) 10:42
4. “Kivenkantaja” (“Stonebearer”) 07:39
5. “Tuulen tytär/Soturin tie” (“Daughter of the Wind/Way of the Warrior”) 08:36
6. “Matkan lopussa” (“At the Journey’s End”) 04:54

Voimasta ja kunniasta (“Of Strength and Honor”): Moonsorrow

Rating: 100%

Voimasta_ja_Kunniasta.jpgThis was the record that attracted me to Moonsorrow back in 2001 when it was released. The epic sound with the raspy vocals and strong choirs pulled me not only into Moonsorrow, but it introduced me to Folk Metal and Viking Metal during a time when I thought that Heavy Metal was getting dull. This was during the wake of Grunge and Nu Metal had begun playing itself out. Both, Groove and Sludge Metal were just still heavily underground. Nothing good was one the radio. Then I heard this album on Serious radio. I was blown away!!!!

Musically, I love the melody which is very strong throughout the music, especially the opening track. Lot’s of good harmony within the music as well. The instrumentation of the traditional Heavy Metal instruments along with the keyboards, accordion, and mouth harp surprisingly, get along well. Lot’s of great tempos in each track some that feature Black Metal mixed with Polka and Folk music adds to the listening experience. It’s both, very dark and bright. It’s also fun and when the last track is finished, you wish it wasn’t over yet. The strong choirs and strong hand claps add a certain appeal of class to the overall music. The song structures are very good.  There’s some really good riffs and although, this album lacks leads, it’s still a very good album.

Musicianship is exceptional. Bassist and vocalist Ville Sorvali takes hold of the music with his raspy vocal style. His bass lines are very strong throughout the entire album. Guitarist, mouth harpist, accordionist, keyboardist, and vocalist Henri Sorvali adds to the overall sound and style. The other instruments he plays really does compliment the overall sound of the music. Drummer Marko Tarvonen is great at the skins. His tempos and signatures are dead on. Guitarist Mitja Harvilahti rounds out the rest of the band.

Track listing:

1. “Tyven” (“Serene”) 01:52
2. “Sankarihauta” (“Warrior’s Grave”) 07:41
3. “Kylän päässä” (“A Village Away”) 07:38
4. “Hiidenpelto/Häpeän hiljaiset vedet” (“Field of the Devil/The Silent Waters of Shame”) 09:20
5. “Aurinko ja kuu” (“The Sun and the Moon”) 08:14
6. “Sankaritarina” (“Warrior’s Tale”) 13:50