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Balancing catchy strengths with power - 95%

Napero, February 1st, 2012

Voimasta ja kunniasta is essentially a direct continuation of the themes and ideas found on Suden uni. The most essential differences lie in the way the band polished the concept to a finer edge, and turned the "epicness" dial to 11.

The album's name means "Of Strength and Honour" in English, and that's exactly what the lyrics and the music are all about. Gone are the hints at pseudo-historical stories of the dreamy ages before written Finnish history, the focus is on heroism and a warrior's honour, liberally coated with enough intentional epicness to approach the limit where epic qualities turn to amusing cheese, but not quite reaching too far and keeping the awesome atmosphere intact. The stories of the lyrics are set in undefined times, and entail vengeance, respect for those fallen in battle, and the mental strength of those who can resist temptation and remain faithful to a warrior's code of honour. The triumphant male-choir choruses have been utilized more, and the layered sound is thick and meaty, with pretty much perfect production that emphasizes the story telling and age-of-legends feel of the album.

The music has more of those difficult to define epic qualities than its predecessor did. It could be claimed that if epic atmosphere in folkish metal is what you're looking for, this is The Album for you. But there's more. The tunes are still absolutely infective, and the songs have turned slightly more complicated. They evolve more than before, and that particular trend was destined to continue and increase all the way until the two-song epic V: Hävitetty, an album consisting of many individual parts that other bands would turn into a dozen or more songs, but Moonsorrow simply lumped them into two extremely fluidly flowing and, at the same time, extremely long songs.

Yes, already at this stage, it's possible to recognize a bunch of trends in Moonsorrow's discography, if only in hindsight. If we only look at the first three official full-lengths and forget the demos, they are more or less based on the same thematics and musical ideas, but looking further, it's quite possible to notice an increasing amount of progression in the songs. In this context, "progressions" doesn't have anything to do with funny time signatures or technical wankery; no, the kind of progression found here is of a different kind. The songs start somewhere, and especially in the more recent eras, they end in a completely different surroundings, going through transformations and winding paths. If you compare Suden uni and Voimasta ja kunniasta, the songs take more time to make detours and visit other musical realms on the way from their beginning to the end, and that trend spans the the albums until the epic title song of the Tulimyrsky EP, becoming more pronounced throughout.

Another trend, stealthily seeded already on this mighty album is the gradual moving away from the pure folk metal. That trend is still progressing. If Suden uni is perhaps the purest folk metal album in Moonsorrow's portfolio, this has other qualities hatching amongst the folk. The style, with its epic ideas, has more of the definition-defying Viking atmosphere in it, perhaps as a result of the overall idea of strength and honour. The epicness was bound to increase along the band's career.

The third trend, not yet as prominent as the two above, is the gradual darkening of the sound, songs and the subject matter. That trend would eventually lead Moonsorrow off on another path altogether, and even if it took several albums to turn into a real, noticeable development, the seeds that turned Moonsorrow back to black were sown here.

Yes, this is more of the same, but perhaps even a bit better than on Suden uni. Both are to be recommended to anyone looking for a gate drug to quality folk metal without silly fiddling and mugs of mead in a tavern: this is serious business, and done with good taste, despite the inclusion of the dreadful "folk" part in the alleged genre tag.