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The second full-length album of the great Finnish epic folk/black metal band Moonsorrow, Voimasta ja kunniasta, is truly an awesome piece of art. It was a step away from more straightforward sound Moonsorrow had on their first album, Suden uni, towards more heroic and grandiose atmosphere. Voimasta ja kunniasta is a formidable work also because of the fact that it was released the same year with Suden uni. Think of it! Two great albums within such a short time! That is not an easy achievement to any band and it tells to us how talented these guys are.
Voimasta ja kunniasta (Of Strength and Honour) could be best described as epic folk metal. The black metal-side of earlier and later Moonsorrow is present but it’s quite subtle throughout the album except in Ville Sorvali’s vocals. Breath-taking, mighty and heroic feeling is the primary element on the album. It is blended very skilfully with effective metal components to create a tense ancient and heathen atmosphere. A strong Nordic, mainly Finnish, touch is always present through the melodies, folk instruments and of course, lyrics. Lyrics on Voimasta ja kunniasta deal with legendary tales, Finnish and Nordic myths, heroic battles and such, which are themes that always appeal to me. The music supports that kind of lyrics perfectly and Ville’s emotional vocals finishes the overall image.
Almost everything on Voimasta ja kunniasta is bombastic. Strong riffs, a couple of solos, pounding bass and drums, flowing synth layers and beautiful folk parts, everything is well planned to make the album exceedingly enjoyable and to honey the music towards astonishing perfection. Vocals are mainly blackish shrieks but a great amount of clean choirs are also present. As a whole, the album holds an awesome variety within it but still the guys of Moonsorrow have managed to keep the music consistent.
Because every one of the songs on Voimasta ja kunniasta is special, I want to tell something about each. The album starts with an intro called “Tyven“, the only intro on Moonsorrow’s full-lengths so far. It consists of some sounds of wind and a beautiful piano melody. Straight from the end of “Tyven” explodes the second song, “Sankarihauta“. It’s an epic and heavy song holding intense power. One of the few Moonsorrow-solos appears near the end of the track and I find that solo to be excellent, maybe because solo is always a rarity in a Moonsorrow-song. Though I see no need for solos in music like this, it’s refreshing in a way. Third track is “Kylän päässä”, a song similar to “Sankarihauta” but with bigger folk-touch. I’ve heard many people praise this song but I find it to be slightly weaker than other songs on Voimasta ja kunniasta. It somehow lacks that enchanting depth that can be found elsewhere on the album. In fact, “Kylän päässä” is the reason why Voimasta ja kunniasta doesn’t get higher points from me.
Fourth song is more darker epic named “Hiidenpelto/Häpeän hiljaiset vedet”. It has a quite slow tempo and many gloomy parts that merge into each other flawlessly. Fifth track is the exalted “Aurinko ja kuu”. The whole song is enthralling, especially the melodies in the beginning and in the middle of the verses. The last song “Sankaritarina” is the longest and the best song on Voimasta ja kunniasta. “Sankaritarina” clocks at 13:50 and includes numerous memorable passages. Step by step it grows from the magical beginning to an epic that exceeds everything else on this album but still being “only” the climax, not drowning other songs under it’s pure majesty. Lyrics tell about a man who has died with honour and glory and whose journey into the underworld is told by his brothers in arms. Hávamál is brilliantly quoted in the first verses of the song. “Sankaritarina” is constructed from the essence of events long since forgotten. It has many powerful parts but also calm parts to introduce the other side of heroic legends.
In conclusion, Voimasta ja kunniasta is an album that sends chills down my spine and while listening it I can’t help longing for the ancient times. Only “Kylän päässä” is a minor flaw in the midst of perfection. Every fan of epic, folkish extreme metal must try this. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!