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When hearing a name like Moonsorrow, one doesn’t expect to hear the grandiose heroism and pagan folksy tunes that wove their way into the band’s middle era material. But a promising demo with bleak yet epic musical backdrop that definitely takes cues from “For All Tid” and “In The Nightside Eclipse” is a much more predictable outcome, as it is indicative of a band that has a compound name that is all but right out of the unwritten 2nd wave codex. While by the time 1997 rolled around this approach to a demo was fairly commonplace, “Metsa” is a solid representation of how ambient consonance with a hint of symphonic additives can coexist with a raw blackened edge.
The influences are worn right on the band’s shirtsleeve throughout the entire experience, avoiding any ambiguity in the band’s black metal origins that were more the case with contemporary releases by Suidakra and Ensiferum (both of whom ended up in a similarly folksy crossroads in the early 2000s). The riff set, though a bit more complex than the minimalistic works of mid 90s Darkthrone and Burzum, carries a similar feel of traveling without a whole lot of harmonic motion, painted over with a heavier keyboard presence. The tone of the entirety of the album, including the longwinded blast beats and occasional slow interludes, definitely carries a strong Emperor feel minus the ultra-distant production feel. But the most orthodox feature of the band is Ville’s blackened imp shrieks, which are a vile, unintelligible hybrid of Hat (Gorgoroth) and Ihsahn (Emperor).
While just about everything that came after this release is more indicative of the band’s association with the folk and Viking tendencies of Finland’s post-black metal scene of the early 2000s, this one sounds more like an old school offering of the Norwegian school. It’s sort of caught in the middle between the rawness of Gorgoroth, the ambient dreams of Burzum, the shimmering density of Emperor and the formal simplicity of early Dimmu Borgir, not really committing to one particular tendency for more than a passing section. It’s a good release for this style, though not quite a spellbinding affair, partly because of a lack of a really definitive character to set it apart from the rest. Consider it as something of a battle reenactment, whereas “In The Nightside Eclipse” and the Emperor demos were the actual conflict.
This demo release does not resemble the style of music that Moonsorrow play. Yet it is pure awesomeness.
It's basically a three song demo.
The first song, Jo Pimeys Saa, is an intro with some horses running and some battle sounds. It sets the mood well enough but I think they could come up with something better.
Fimbulvetr Frost is the next song of the album. And man it's a hell of a track. The piece has some excellent melodic keyboards that are not hintering the rest of the music to be heard. The guitars are playing some very nice riffs. The drums even for a drum machine are great with some excellent blastbeats and some really nice fills. Now, we come to my favourite part. The vocals. Sorvali's screams are magnificent and we can hear again our already known finnish chants at the chorus and some spoken words. It is a remarkable song.
The last song is called Hvergelmir - Elivagar (Pakanavedet). It is a long track (over the 10 minutes mark) but I would not call it epic. At least not in the classical Moonsorrow style. It is resembling more to the kind of epicness that Summoning and Graveland have at least in my opinion. Excellent track, too.
The only drawback of this release is the intro which is not the best that Moonsorrow could write. That's the reason they do not get the ultimate rating
Overally, your money are not going to be wasted on that demo. This is not only for Moonsorrow fans but for any fan of black metal.
This is the first demo of Moonsorrow that saw the daylight. It's very short, doesn't even reach 20 minutes. I have to admit that it's not outstanding but still the spirit of the later masterpieces can be felt... There are some remarkable things (good as well as bad) that I think should be mentioned:
* The production, not horrible but faaaar from good. I know, i know, it's just the first demo... Nevertheless that influences the general impression of the record.
* The songs, the first just an atmospheric intro, not even melodic. Later two long but not very complicated pieces of something between heathen black and folk. Eventually a short, peaceful, instrumental ending. Guess that's not what everyone could expect.
* The performance, aaaaww - drum machine. This one doesn't really fit in this genre. Still I remember that it's just the first demo but Moonsorrow guys could try a little better and find a drum set, 'cause I think a drummer would not be a problem. And the second thing is the vocals. These are very strange distorted blackish crieks yet (with a lyrics sheet) moderately understandable. It's definitely not the style that we know from the later Moonsorrow works.
The fact that you love their longplays doesn't mean that you'll love this demo. I can't even say that it's better than a more-than-just-good "Tämä Ikuinen Talvi". It's just a demo that every self-respecting fan of Moonsorrow should at least once hear and shape his own opinion about it.