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Moonsorrow's Tulimyrsky was a surprise. It was not something to expect from a band barely capable of fitting its full-lengths on a single CD, and since EPs generally clock in under 30 minutes, the five-track album seemed like, perhaps, an afterthought or a cash grab. But once the details were revealed, and it turned out that Moonsorrow had had trouble fitting an EP on a CD, it was instantly obvious that calling the album an EP was more due to its importance among the band's discography than to such superficial issues as number or tracks or total length.
And indeed, Tulimyrsky is an oddity in the Moonsorrow discography. Not only does it take a step or two back in time along the band's career, it also seems like an oddly lesser piece of work in other respects, and has quite a bit of experimental feel to it. And since more than half of its length is dedicated to cover songs and re-recordings of earlier, demo era songs, it's perhaps something that should not be taken too seriously. And therefore, it's an EP. Maybe.
The title track, an overlong display of songwriting prowess, is an interesting mixture of the lengthy quasi-symphonic deep thought that V: Hävitetty was built on, and a stylistic throwback to the times somewhere between Kivenkantaja and Verisäkeet. The track blends the older folky music with the newer song format, and even if the Mother of All EP Songs occasionally resembles the tracks from Verisäkeet more than those from Voimasta ja kunniasta, it's still a return to pre-V: Hävitetty times, stylistically. The main gripe a listener with a serious case of Moonsorrow-infatuation might have is the abundance of spoken parts: they tend to wear out, and they do it quickly if they do. Also, in this case, the story of the song, an exceptional tale of vengeance unusually seen from both sides of the conflict, does not offer much to those without fluency in Finnish. But the tale itself is interesting, and the way it's been written and recorded makes it a delicacy: the spoken parts are from the point of view of a young boy whose village is destroyed and burned, but the sung parts describe the righteous wrath of those committing the atrocity while avenging treason and murder.
The rest of the tracks are more like filler than anything in the band's discography ever before. But it's not a valid reason to judge them. There are two covers and two re-recordings.
The re-recordings, especially the version on "Taistelu Pohjolasta", turn old tracks from black metal from the days before Suden uni into a more familiar Moonsorrow format. "Taistelu Pohjolasta" now sounds like a BM-heavy Moonsorrow product, instead of the dimmuborgiresque synth-drenched melodic black metal song, while "Hvergelmir" still has all the superficial black metal elements, and sounds like a more straightforward re-recording than a new interpretation of an old song. It must be mentioned, though, that the latter has less room for maneuvers, and the basic construction of the song might even fit a Horna album.
The cover version of the 1994 "Back to the North" by Sweden's Merciless is an interesting choice for a song, and the result is good; it is probably just a way to pay homage to an old favorite. However, the real treat, and perhaps the biggest and most obvious opinion-splitter on the EP is the Metallica cover. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is a classic, but unfortunately gets usually completely passed by when people discuss Metallica. On Tulimyrsky, Moonsorrow does a cover version of it, in the only way cover versions are supposed to be done, unless the performing band is solely dedicated to playing covers and sounding like the original: they turn the classic into a Moonsorrow song. There are additional parts, a wholly changed arrangement, and a completely new vocal approach to the song. It's recognizable, sure, but it has been changed enough to sound like a Moonsorrow song off Kivenkantaja. And it's marvelous! It might be the thing a new Moonsorrow-curious potential fan should cash out and listen to; it's a perfect gateway drug, an item to be used when calibrating the brain to the way Moonsorrow works, and even a very good song. Recommended!
In the final analysis, Tulimyrsky is a rather nice EP, but falls short of the kind of brilliance the band's other works with their full-length status achieve. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with it, and the title track's experimentalism and the Metallica cover song's endearing Moonsorrowization are both valid reasons for purchasing this EP. But the EP also carries a whiff of something that seems like an intermission filler, and while it hardly counts as a cash grab, seeing that every track has been specifically recorded for the occasion, it looks like an excuse to release the massive title track. It would not have fitted in among the other songs on either V: Hävitetty or Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa, for both technical and artistic reasons.
Worth getting, but not a masterpiece, in other words. But if you like Moonsorrow, you'll get it anyway, won't you...?
Moonsorrow is one of those bands that were introduced to me as a unique, epic and progressive band that did revolutionary works for the Pagan Metal genre. When I stumbled over their overlong Tulimyrsky EP with this beautiful epic cover artwork I decided that it was about time to try this band out.
But opposed to many positive reviews, I didn't find much magic or originality on this record. The title song "Tulimyrsky" is interesting when the band employs exotic folk instruments such as didgeridoos or when they employ some epic keyboard passages, decent choirs or short narrative passages. The music itself sounds like a mixture of Bathory, Falkenbach and Tyr and doesn't introduce anything new to the genre. The title track tries to develop some atmosphere and is surely quite hypnotizing. But the track works rather as a relaxing background msuic to me and has not enough originality to keep my attention for almost thirty minutes. In only one third of this time, the band could have created a fairly addicting epic Viking Metal track but they chose the path of endless repeating patterns. There is a lot of light and shade and boring passages meet some fine breaks and interludes from time to time but overall this song can't truly convince me and I expected more here. Even more recent and commercial bands such as Wintersun did better epic tracks on their albums and this can't be called a highlight of its genre for me as it is simply overambitious and long. As a score for a Viking movie, a relaxing background music for role play gamers or a soundtrack to lose yourself into during a walk through the nature, this EP is still a very accurate choice and I can’t deny that Moonsorrow have their moments even if it takes some time to find them.
The new versions of old demo tracks have somewhat the same problem. They have a fairly promising structure but the songs are overall too long and not very progressive or epic at all. The keyboard sounds have a certain charm and the blackened vocals have a lot of energy and emotion but especially the guitar riffs are rather mediocre. If the band had decided to cut maybe three minutes of each of those two tracks, the final results would sound much more intense, diversified and coherent. The intense beauty meets the beast track "Taistelu Pohjolasta" is though my favourite track on the record and grows on me each time I listen to it once in a while again.
The two cover versions have pretty much been adapted to the style of Moonsorrow and sound like if they were the band's own tracks. While this fact is interesting and very positive, one must nevertheless compare those versions to the original ones and I thought that they sounded well more unique for their time and got better to the point or the essence of spirit of these songs. I would though not consider these new versions as failed experiments as they fit surprisingly well on the record. The whole EP indeed sounds like an album and has a very coherent structure.
In the end, this record has too many lengths and is a perfect example for the fact that overlong tracks don't always mean to be epic, magic and progressive. The band sounds epic from time to time but I don't feel much magic or originality on here. I would always chose the originals from Bathory to Primordial first but also bands such as Amorphis and Månegarm or even more recent stuff like Arkona or Equilibrium. That means that Moonsorrow are one of the most inaccessible, boring and also overrated ambassadors of this genre that is usually intense, atmospheric and authentic without getting in overlong “wankery” passages like here. This record may still grow on me with the time but this hasn't been the case in the last years and I usually don't change my mind very often. I would suggest you to rather check the bands out I mentioned before and keep this for a time when you want to dig deep into a record and approach this experiment with some much needed patience, time and tranquility. Even though my rating is still rather positive from an objective and fair point of view, you can easily get much better in the large folk and pagan genres with Empyrium, Ulver or Cruachan but also worse like Heljareyga, Eluveitie or Alestorm.
It is somewhat ironic that the EP of a band would turn out to be among their longest works. Here is Moonsorrow's 'Tulimyrsky EP', consisting of one typical Moonsorrow track (a half hour sprawling epic) and a considerable amount of bonus material. Although an EP is rarely ever supposed to hold much weight in a band's discography, this release has garnered some big attention from both fans and others in the metal scene, and for good reason. On top of an epic track that is soon to become a modern classic in pagan metal, the covers here are highly impressive and go to show what a giant act Moonsorrow really is. All this aside though, I would tend to agree with the consensus that 'Tulimyrsky' may have had more stopping power if they had only cut down on some of the material after the main attraction and shortened things up a bit. All the same, some of the material here is fantastic.
Of course, the covers and redone editions of earlier tracks are an added benefit, but the majority of the attention should be directed towards the epic half hour track 'Tulimyrsky'. Its name is Finnish for 'firestorm', and this does reflect quite well in the music. An epic that shows the bands roots in black metal quite well, there is an epic scope of songwriting here, and the vast amount of time the track has to work with lets each idea get nicely developed before moving on. Although there is a fair use of repetition in the writing of 'Tulimyrsky', one of Moonsorrow's greatest assets is that somehow, the music never gets boring, despite the fact that their style focuses greatly on hypnotic pagan anthems. There are two or three recurring musical themes that keep popping up throughout the piece, and this gives it some great cohesion. The epic peaks towards the last five minutes, which is absolutely majestic; chants, symphonic arrangements, and driving guitars give me chills each time 'Tulimyrsky' comes to a close. This epic reminds me greatly of the music on Moonsorrow's fifth album (and my personal favourite) 'V - Havitetty' and it remains one of the band's greatest achievements, although some parts can wear a bit much with the spoken word dialogue and soundscapes.
The rest of the album is quite strong, but also feels as if the afterthought it dragged on far too long. It feels that if 'Tulimyrsky EP' had ended as soon as the song did, there would be a lasting state of awe, but instead the band goes straight into cover tracks. Fortunately however, these covers are fantastic. The more famous of the two is the Metallica song 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', from their album 'Ride The Lightning'. Moonsorrow prove how strong their sense of style is here by taking a classic song and truly making it their own; one listening to it could almost swear it was a Moonsorrow song they were listening to, as opposed to a cover. The two 2008 redo versions are quite good, although somewhat forgettable when compared to the rest of the music that 'Tulimyrsky EP' has to offer.
An EP that comes close to being essential, 'Tulimyrsky EP' is highly recommended and more than worth checking out, if even only for the brilliant title track.
Before there was folk metal, there was Moonsorrow. Before the awesomeness, the jigs, the stringed instruments and the “humppa” rhythms, these medieval trouble-doers helped bring that forest-dwelling approach to black metal with that patented Finny flourish that seemed so out of the blue that it was damned difficult to not notice. And it’s a shame that, throughout their existence, they’ve always seemed to be a bridesmaid in the metallic wedding party, never really getting what comeuppance is so overdue them, as they’ve always seemed to possess more talent and overall ability than more than a few of their equally Finnish peers.
And with that, let’s see how they’ve fared all these years…
What I ended up procuring was an EP versus a real album, but dammit if it doesn’t FEEL like a real album. 5 tracks; three originals and two covers, clocking it at over an hour. Under those circumstances, I’d be less than intrigued to give it a whirl, as I’ve come across my fair share of bands that push the boundaries of good taste by doing so with ten minutes of material pushed into no man’s land, leading to bothersome listens. And in Moonsorrow’s case, there’s much to behold in just the first song alone. The multi-faced approach of “Tulimyrsky” flows with the fluidity of multiple tracks segued into one another, each movement showcasing a whole other set of emotions and cohesive ideas, where medieval-themed acoustic folk rhythms, epic progressive tandems, and bone-chilling black metal aggression stand together hand-in-hand to astonish and draw in admiration as only a band of this caliber can. This is some stirring material, legendary in its own right, and truly Finnish in absolute spirit the way the monstrous guitar/bass riffs, blistering drums, nature-dwelling keyboards/mouth harp/acoustics, raging screams and ‘round-the-campfire clean singing cascade like so much destructive ice off the fjord, seamlessly, and with such attention grabbing that the 29 minute duration zips by before you know it. Like I said…stirring.
When it comes to the rest of the EP, however… “For Whom the Bell Tolls” makes for a fantastic listen as the Moonsorrowers basically retool the song in their own image versus doing a direct-to-video cover that is essentially the same song but with different vocals (I’ve come across many of those…not good to say the least, if you ask me), and despite a rather dragging approach that pushes the song far longer than it originally was, the overall product is still a fine example of the group’s musicality, even in a cover. The 2008 retelling of “Taistelu Pohjolasta” and “Hvergelmir” give the a nice modern touch that really lets these tracks shine in all their melodic blackened glory, and the other cover is a pretty nifty piece of work as well, done in, essentially, the same folksy DIY approach that made “For Whom…” as groovy as it was.
All in all, this listener is again reminded of the necessary awesomeness of Moonsorrow and how, in this day and age, we should be thankful that groups like them continue to exist and ensure proper metallic leanings. I’m not a big sucker for EPs, but as far as this one goes, it’s well worth the purchase.
Taking off right from their last album, Moonsorrow’s new EP focuses more on an epic pagan black metal feel where as to the more folk oriented style of their earlier albums. This EP goes a little bit overboard for the epic feel. It has narrations from actors (none of which I’ve heard of), has a big folk break half way through the song, and has a grand epic choir finale. Hell, the song is almost half an hour long. And it all works. They went for a more epic sound and they pulled it off with Tulimyrsky.
The song “Tulimyrsky” breaks down into nine parts, filled with narrations, fast aggressive black metal, a calming folk break about half way in the song, more black, more narrations, and a folk oriented chorus at the end to close it all. This all works for the song, but the problem is that they use too much of it all. It song clocks in at 29:45, so the song is dragged on a bit. The problem I find with these massive lengthy songs is that after listening to the same song over some time they can tend to get a little bit boring after a while. After listening to the same black metal style riffing for seven minutes before they chance tempo or decide to proceed into the song I get bored.
The end of the song is where it really gets going. You get the whole pagan feel at the end of the song, about the last four minutes or so. Quick chorus part, then the final narration, then at the last two minutes they go all out with the epic closing with a multi-harmony sung chorus with all the bells and whistles (seriously you can hear bells and whistles in the background). They song may be overlong, but it is also enjoyable once you get past he excessive repetitiveness of it.
Now this isn’t just a one song EP. There are also two covered songs, and two rerecording’s of old songs from their demos. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” ehh…not so good, keyboard doesn’t fit into the song is all. “Back to North” is alright, although it just makes me want to hear the original version by Merciless.
As for the two rerecorded tracks, they just got a better production job pretty much. Nothing too special, although they’re a big highlight if you have never heard the original versions.
This EP is rather enjoyable, and if you liked their previous album you will likely enjoy this with the overlong epic song structure to it. If you however, were disappointed with Hävitetty you will also be disappointed with this release, for it follows the same structure of song, so proceed with caution.
Edit: fixed mistake.
I just must admit that I love the "new wave of Moonsorrow". Suden Uni was good, but I'm just not so much into that kind of heavily folk-melodic metal. Verisäkeet changed the direction of Moonsorrow, and now they are pretty close to the ultimate perfection of this style they are doing. Let me tell you, Moonsorrow sounds better than ever on this EP... which is an unearthly thing to say!
First thing to say is that Ville growls like a beast now! And another is that Moonsorrow has still managed to get more epic than last time (which I really thought to be impossible after V: Hävitetty). They have also moved closer to black metal than folk metal - and in my opinion thats only good thing. They are still Moonsorrow, you can hear their roots through the music, but I feel that Tulimyrsky is the most effective record ever made by Moonsorrow.
Tulimyrsky-track is perfect. First it sounds little bit like Verisäkeet, due the brutality, but later I can hear even influences from Suden Uni on it. This is, afterall, very blackened folk metal, and you can hear it yourself. Blastbeating, growling, tough riffs and still great atmospheres. Tulimyrsky avoids the curses of the progressive metal-genre; it is not long just go be long, it is long to carry the epic, massive story that it holds.
The other tracks are pretty average compared to Tulimyrsky, but still great. For example, the Metallica-cover is pretty nice and Henri's vocals really surprised my - in a good way. The two re-recorded demotracks are pretty pure black metal, raw, but still they sound so familiar. I could actually believe that track "Taistelu Pohjolasta" could have been part of the Tulimyrsky-song.
And the Merciless-cover is the best cover I have ever heard. It could be becouse Merciless itself is perfect, but I really loved this cover, becouse it sounded like Moonsorrow's own song. Great riffs, but still able to make up atmospheres by using acoustic guitars and so on..
What can I say? I'm a Moonsorrow-fanboy and I love this shit!
Starting with their 2007 Hävitetty release, Moonsorrow were beginning to sound a bit too experimental (‘pretentious’ would be a better description) as well as tired in the riff-department. Songs were getting over-stretched and the material started lacking the depth and magical feeling of the earlier Kivenkantaja and Verisäkeet albumst.
This release, an EP with a full length, starts off with yet another over stretched song. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of good ideas here but for instance the intro is too long and the faster black metal-inspired section is a bit too one-dimensional and simple. The epic atmosphere is lacking a lot here and therefore opener “Tulimyrsky” feels like a collection of ideas instead of a well thought through epic song.
The two old demo tracks “Taistelu Pohjolasta” and “Hvergelmir” are a nice addition. Of course the performance and sound are a huge improvement. But of course these songs are still very old songs, written in a time when the band was still in the process of refining their own style. These two songs however are enough reason to get your hands on this release.
Now how about the two covers? The intentions regarding “For Whom The Bell Tolls” are quite good. The band has tried to make an interpretation suiting their own sound. They partially succeeded. It has that ‘Moonsorrow-feeling’ but as such it is not a very good track. A lot of melodies are played on keyboard, making it a bit cheesy and the vocals are far from strong and even sound a bit forced. The idea was nice, but the result simply not good enough. The Merciless cover “Back To North” is a bit tame and monotone most of the time and one wonders why Moonsorrow haven’t chosen to cover a better song. I can understand they wanted to cover a long epic tune, but Merciless have always been better at writing fast furious material (check out their awesome “the Awakening” album!). A Bathory cover or even Merciful Fate would have been a better choice.
All in all this EP gives mixed feeling. Two nice versions of old demo songs. A long song with some great ideas and two covers which are nothing more than ‘okay’. But by now I am wondering if the band will soon remember their strong points and start writing effective songs with that spherical touch again like they did on Kivenkantaja and Verisäkeet. Also I am missing simple beautiful non-metal songs like “Kaiku” and “Matkan Lopussa”. Their over all sound has become less epical despite the lengthier songs and the balance between beautiful folk melodies and black metal heaviness has shifted toward the latter too much. I’m not very excited about this.
Moonsorrow will release this month an EP with only one new song… scandalous! No wait a moment, the song is as long as half of the record? Ah yeah I’ve forgot: it’s fucking Moonsorrow! In retrospect to their latest full-length release “Hävitetty”, a song length of 30 minutes appears absolutely normal (Hävitetty had 2 songs and a length of 56 minutes).But with “Tulimyrsky”, Moonsorrow surpasses themselves: 68 minutes for an EP…that’s insane!
In addition to the title song, which is the only new song, Moonsorrow has chosen some covers and remastered songs for the EP: For whom the bell tolls (Metallica Cover), Back to the north (Merciless Cover), Taistelu Pohjolasta and Hvergelmir, two renovated songs from already released records/demos.
Let’s start with the new song Tulimyrsky, a 30 minutes epos which starts very conservative: acoustic guitars, the sound of a river and a guy who tells us something in finish. Pure northern atmosphere…but then, after 4 minutes, the first surprise: the sound of Tulimyrsky sounds dirtier than his forerunner and with the first blast-beat comes the impression that Moonsorrow has been influenced by some Nordic raw black metal bands. But after a brutal start, Paganism and Folklore gets the upper hand and the Finnish musicians return to their well know music-style. Choirs, dramatic turnarounds and melodies, written by the Nordic nature…pagan metal at his best!
The Metallica cover For whom the bell tolls is one of the best covers I ever heard. Why? Because Moonsorrow manages to award this thrash metal song a very personal pagan note. Many bands only copy the song that they want to cover, but Moonsorrow adds 3 minutes and a lot of atmosphere. Great!
The two remastred songs are ideal for those who have missed Moonsorrow’s earlier releases and Back to the North is a nice goody for every fan of the Swedish death metal band Merciless.
You call yourself a Moonsorrow fan? Then you don’t need to hesitate with this EP! “Tulimyrsky” shortens the time until the next full-length record, which will be, in all probability, another masterpiece of pagan metal, no doubts!
Written for: www.mfgreview.wordpress.com