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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.