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I have loved all of Moonsorrow’s albums so far, so I was waiting for this album with great anticipation. I knew Moonsorrow would not disappoint me and indeed they have not. This is one of the most complicated, epic, and best metal albums ever composed. And I do not give out that compliment lightly.
To many, this album does not seem too great, many complaints I have heard is that the songs are just too long and that Moonsorrow seems to have lost a lot of their folk influence. Ok, so the songs are extremely long, HOWEVER, this is EPIC metal, and epic metal does take patience to listen to. You can’t always listen to a lengthy song and expect to love it. The songs are very deep and many times it takes several listens to uncover all their beauty. If you still don’t love it, then epic metal is just not for you, because the songs here are great. As for the loss of some folk influence, if you loved it, then yes you will be disappointed because there is not much here, however at least Moonsorrow is changing. I will say however though, that towards the end of the first song, there is a riff that IS folky, and sounds almost like something from Kivenkantaja, however it is not too long lasting.
Ok, now getting towards the music. It is as already stated epic. The songs are very long, however they change quite a bit throughout their duration, so it is not the exact same riff being played over and over. The first song, “Jäästä Syntynyt/Varjojen Virta” has a several minute long intro which is mostly acoustic. Let me say that this is probably the first time I have enjoyed a mainly acoustic intro that lasted over 3-4 minutes. The intro sounds sad, but it is very calm, and there is even some chanting. I love how the intro slowly builds up, gains more of an evil sound, and just builds up into a great few verses. The musicianship is awesome here, all the elements and instruments are blended very well, and the sounds are very creative, you even have the sound of snowflakes falling in the intro to the first song. The vocals, they are just simply incredible. They sound a little like on “Verisäkeet”, but even better. Basically, the lyrics are not too loud in the mix, and they are very harsh, which makes Ville sound very angry, and in great anguish and pain. It creates for a great effect. The atmosphere, as we have come to expect from Moonsorrow is terrific. The instruments and sounds in the background create beautiful images. You get the feeling of a dark, snowy, wintry night in a forest, and if you really concentrate to the music, you almost expect something evil to occur due to the doomy riffs in the transition from the intro to the bulk of the song. All of these elements come together beautifully and create very emotional and sad, but beautiful music. I can say that I actually had tears in my eyes during parts of the first song. And this has only happened a few times before.
On to some of the highlights of the album. The intro to the first song is beautiful, it sets the mood and atmosphere extremely well for the whole album. The transition from the intro to the meat of the song is VERY evil, and this is one of the few times Moonsorrow has actually managed to give me an evil feeling. Whenever this part comes up, I get images in my mind from some really sad moments in life, and this really creates a lot of emotion, and it almost makes you reflect on life, this is beautiful and incredible, despite sounding evil and bad. The first few verses of the first track are also incredible. I know I keep using the same adjectives over and over but this album really deserves it. Before the verses you get several desperate screams from Ville and then when the vocals come in, they aren’t heard very loud but go excellently with the riff which does sound a bit evil, but is a bit more melodic than most of the album. The solo towards the end of this album is short but sweet. It is melodic, but a bit heavy so it almost feels a bit out of place on a Viking metal album. And for those interested the Kivenkantaja-like riff comes in around 23:10.
The second song also has some highlights. There is another fairly nice acoustic riff that sounds sad, but is a bit more melodic, and it also builds up slowly until the song explodes with a rather heavy, non-melodic riff this time. You will notice that this song while heavy and non-melodic at times has some folk influences as well. Shows you that even though the song is very lengthy, it contains a lot of variety. It also contains some chanting which is not the best aspect of the album, but is interesting.
This album really exceeded my already great expectations since Moonsorrow was already my favorite band. I have been grading Moonsorrow albums harder than most others simply because I know what Moonsorrow is capable of, but here I have no choice but to give them a full 100, because this album truly is incredible. Looks like I will have to rewrite my Kreator “Pleasure to Kill” review, because this one truly is in another league.
And for those of you that did not exactly fall in love with the album, give it another chance. Let it sink in. I think a lot of people want to love it right away, but you have to be patient with this album. This album is the one to beat in terms of Viking Metal. I am a bit afraid I won’t like the next Moonsorrow album as much as this one simply because of how hard it will be to create another masterpiece as good as this, but Moonsorrow is a very talented band. They said this album would be unlike anything they have ever done before, and they have stayed true to their word. This is a terrific album, one of the best ever produced, but if you are looking to get into Moonsorrow you should start with some of the earlier albums first. Moonsorrow did an awesome job on this album!