Moonsorrow, finland, viking, black, 2016, reviews

Genre: Viking Black Metal
Country: Finland
Label: Century Media Records
Year: 2016

I have always held the belief, that a trait all charismatic and talented bands have, is their ability to cover other artists’ songs in their own unique way, making them sound amazing for a second time. With that in mind, I was struck by lightning when I heard Moonsorrow’s cover on Rotting Christ’s “Non Serviam”, a historic track that should be considered one of the best pieces of Greek black metal ever recorded.

The cover song will be featured on the bonus disk of Moonsorrow’s latest album “Jumalten aika” (translates to “The Age of Gods”) and it’s a stunning offering, in a way that I enjoy it as much as the original. It turns out Ville Sorvali, the band’s singer, sounds perfect in English too and not only in Finnish, listening to him screaming “Non Serviam” is simply majestic. Anyhow, I don’t think anyone expected a good cover to understand how great this band is, we have a discography of gems for that.

“Jumalten aika” is the seventh full length album of Moonsorrow and their first under the aegis of Century Media Records. Once again, it lasts more than one hour and contains five long compositions, four of which clock around twelve to sixteen minutes each while one, “Suden tunti”, is quite shorter and has been treated with an interesting video clip as well. Even if an hour of music is too much for some, this particular band has never been even close to boring, ever, so don’t worry.

They had me waiting for five years since 2011’s “Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa” and it turns out they totally deserve it, for this beast of an album will have the listener stand in awe while listening. The sound here feels slightly darker than before, accompanied with a cover artwork darker than the previous albums, portraying the world tree in black/gray color. Each song is full of amazing material, combining cutting viking/black guitar lines with synths, epic choral vocals and additional instruments like flutes, whistles and the accordion.

Using many different kinds of vocals is a blessing for the album, especially when executed mainly by the remarkable voice of Ville (all the members of the band contribute with backing vocals). His shrieked vocals are touching, while the tracks often have cleans and choir vocals/chants, provoking the spirit of the heathen days very strongly and better than any viking metal band out there. Just listen to the ending of the second track “Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa” and see for yourselves, how powerful the vocals alone can be.

As said before, “Suden tunti” is the shortest track and opens with one of the most distinctive melodies of the album, in a somehow odious mood before opening way to the more melancholic introduction of “Mimisbrunn”. The latter is also a great example of the natural sound of the bass in the album, as well as the overall production that offers ideal balance between the vocals, the synths and the guitars. The use of folk elements is a bit more frequent with “Jumalten aika”, but this only works in their favor of creating a dreamy and powerful record.

The core of the band’s music is black metal, with heavy viking metal elements, avoiding all the circus dancing jibber-jabber we often come across when looking into viking metal. Most of the album moves in middle speed, with several acoustic guitar moments and sometimes when they go faster into more straightforward black metal, (like in the middle part of “Ihmisen Aika (Kumarrus Pimeyteen)”), all is done in an excellent way. Moonsorrow know exactly how to manage their musical ideas and knit them together.

There have been great viking/black metal bands, like Windir, Månegarm or Thyrfing. However, only one has achieved levels of brilliance no one else has, and that is Moonsorrow. This is the epitome of the viking/black blend, it stands so strong it makes you think this music can not be played better. It flows wonderfully, it’s diverse and it’s dominating, as if the souls of all the pagans live inside the hearts of the band. What Quorthon started twenty five years ago has led to this and we ought to be grateful. Moonsorrow is one of the best metal bands alive today, end of story.