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Dreary evening drives on freeways do have a brighter side because they provide an apt ambiance for some extreme metal and recently it was a Moonsorrow record that found its way into my rustic cd player. Verisäkeet has this bizarre ‘business as usual’ feel to it, so effortless and nonchalant that someone could imagine this being cranked out of a machine when it is fed with staples of folk, death, black, and progressive metal.
Compared to Kivenkantaja, this record is a quantum leap in terms of quality and complexity. In hindsight, V: Hävitetty was the next obvious step in the direction which transpired during the course of Verisäkeet. The most striking attribute of this record is its unrestrained tone. There are numerous instances where these guys spontaneously break into this folk instrumentation and still manage to have a streamlined flow. The whole seventy minute album is like one big song split into five and mandates a continuous listen. The mellow folk instruments or the choir hardly tarnishes the genuineness of the compositions. On the contrary, they just seem to add more value to the authenticity of this record. The Finns for sure had managed to steer clear of any cliches in composition and crafted a real honest, unpredictable sound that exhibits uniquely vibrant textures.
The first song, “Karhunkynsi”, does show some rare progressive death influences and might just deceive the listener about the real nature of the album. The distinct riffs played towards the second half of the song are quite uncanny for a black metal band, and it's needless to say that this small window of sanity is short lived and expires right when some frantic vocals lead us to an incessant black metal guitar picking. From this point on it is some real quality extreme metal as the vocals get harsher and the guitar breaks into a blaring speed which more than compensates for the slow build up.
Sections with the keyboard and the slow guitar strumming are reminiscent of the doom/death ambiance, but the vocals still hold onto its black metal roots. The fact that the choir and the keyboards never dominate the guitar and vocals means that the sound is mostly black metal. Moonsorrow got this aspect of mixing perfectly in sync with my taste. The abrupt mellow passages with folk instruments like the accordion are thrown in almost randomly and it is almost as if they are proving a point that being aesthetic hardly matters. The second half of “Pimeä” is a minefield of ceaseless tempo variations and high frequency switching of mellow and brash parts. It is pretty much about sifting and surfing across a myriad of extreme metal sounds that eventually culminate with another passage of serenity. The exhibition of this devil-may-care mindset only accentuates as the record progresses, and they might have just bulldozed their way through the opinions of a record producer and the label to create something this raw and ravaging.
This Moonsorrow experience is almost analogous to a train ride that manages to traverse a multitude of musical terrains with a signature speed and artistry. If we imagine each railway track as a different musical style, then their confidently flawless way of switching across them manages to sculpt a benchmark for gauging all the metal albums fusing multiple genres.