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Appropriate tears for the weeping moon. - 75%

hells_unicorn, October 18th, 2011

When hearing a name like Moonsorrow, one doesn’t expect to hear the grandiose heroism and pagan folksy tunes that wove their way into the band’s middle era material. But a promising demo with bleak yet epic musical backdrop that definitely takes cues from “For All Tid” and “In The Nightside Eclipse” is a much more predictable outcome, as it is indicative of a band that has a compound name that is all but right out of the unwritten 2nd wave codex. While by the time 1997 rolled around this approach to a demo was fairly commonplace, “Metsa” is a solid representation of how ambient consonance with a hint of symphonic additives can coexist with a raw blackened edge.

The influences are worn right on the band’s shirtsleeve throughout the entire experience, avoiding any ambiguity in the band’s black metal origins that were more the case with contemporary releases by Suidakra and Ensiferum (both of whom ended up in a similarly folksy crossroads in the early 2000s). The riff set, though a bit more complex than the minimalistic works of mid 90s Darkthrone and Burzum, carries a similar feel of traveling without a whole lot of harmonic motion, painted over with a heavier keyboard presence. The tone of the entirety of the album, including the longwinded blast beats and occasional slow interludes, definitely carries a strong Emperor feel minus the ultra-distant production feel. But the most orthodox feature of the band is Ville’s blackened imp shrieks, which are a vile, unintelligible hybrid of Hat (Gorgoroth) and Ihsahn (Emperor).

While just about everything that came after this release is more indicative of the band’s association with the folk and Viking tendencies of Finland’s post-black metal scene of the early 2000s, this one sounds more like an old school offering of the Norwegian school. It’s sort of caught in the middle between the rawness of Gorgoroth, the ambient dreams of Burzum, the shimmering density of Emperor and the formal simplicity of early Dimmu Borgir, not really committing to one particular tendency for more than a passing section. It’s a good release for this style, though not quite a spellbinding affair, partly because of a lack of a really definitive character to set it apart from the rest. Consider it as something of a battle reenactment, whereas “In The Nightside Eclipse” and the Emperor demos were the actual conflict.