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A temporary throwback - 85%

Napero, February 1st, 2012

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...?