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Viking metal to rule them all. - 97%

Peter31095Metalhead, August 10th, 2009

Viking metal is a subgenre that shouldn't work. I mean, it has everything it takes to be one of my favorite metal subgenres. And it is. However, the first viking metal song was "Blood Fire Death". When a musical style begins with the best song ever, everything else in that style pales in comparison. Luckily, viking metal bands (at least a considerable amount) didn't ran away from Quorthon's initial idea. Therefore many of these bands play long, epic metal songs with a small folk influence and have extensive use of choirs, acoustic guitars and keyboards. Not the gay 'flower metal' type. The atmospheric, awesome type.

Moonsorrow is one of those bands. Regardless of them liking or not the term 'viking metal', regardless if they write about vikings, they are viking metal. And one of the best in their style, for sure. This is their second album, and one of the best viking metal albums there are. Like stated by another reviewer, this album is a journey. It takes you back to the time where vikings were raping, looting and pillaging, to the point you feel like a viking yourself.

And this epic journey starts with "Tyven", a beautiful prelude of things to come. Acoustic guitar, keyboard, short instrumental piece. It has been done many times before, but Moonsorrow does it well. This wonderful introduction changes immediately into the second track, the heavy "Sankarihauta". Plenty of great riffs, short acoustic moments, the sound of horses and a brutal, deep scream. The vocals are like the scream: brutal, deep, unique and great. And once it ends, the third tracks starts. "Kylän Pääsä" begins with a slow, hammering riff. The sound of the cymbal in the back. Then, a scream. The riff slightly changes, becoming more epic, and then it turns acoustic. Beautiful. The keyboard starts, and so do the vocals. The song grows heavier and more epic as it proceeds. Then, another scream. The first riff returns. And yet another scream. By the time the song ends, you can't believe you just heard something so epic.

"Hiidenpelto" comes next. It starts slow, with an occasional heavy riff and a beautiful acoustic guitar. It changes the melody, still acoustic though. Then the electric guitars kick in. More great vocals. It changes then to the most recurring part in the song, with a slow, pounding riff and some of the best keyboard work in history. Heavy again, then epic again. But this time with clean singing, chanting actually. And I must note that the chanting is really good. These guys have talent, and they know what they're doing. Overall, another great song.

"Aurinko Ja Kuu", the fifth song, starts. Another beautiful acoustic intro, and something I believe to be a flute plays this melody. Then the heavy electric guitar in yet another great riff. Keyboards and epic riffs. Hell yeah! Great riffs, then nothing. Then another scream with new riffs and more epic keyboards. After some time, you hear only the drums, and another riff is played. Another scream, more epic keyboards, then a chanting chorus... Do you notice a pattern here? I guess the album is a little repetitive, as is this review. That is one of the few flaws in this album, if not the only one. All the songs consist of the same things, only in a different order and with a new sequence of notes. Nothing too irritating, but could be improved. Still on the description of the fifth track, I must note that the ending is especially epic.

And now the time has come for the best song of the album, "Sankaritarina". The sound of waves, then birds... Slowly rises the keyboard, playing a beautiful melody. Once the first riff is played, and the keyboard keeps going on, only stronger, with the drums on the back. It all changes to a new riff, very memorable. After some seconds it returns to the keyboard, but now with more chanting. It slows down, and a low singing voice, followed by a superb keyboard part, with some acoustic guitar. And again chanting, along with the harsh vocals. Then it changes to the most beautiful part on the album, somewhere in the sixth minute of the song. The harsh vocals return, and then you can hear the sounds of battle, with the song in the back, slow, building atmosphere. The chanting, and the guitar getting heavier and faster... And yet another great riff. Chants, and a solo. And what a solo! The chanting returns. The epic keyboards, and a choir. Then that very memorable riff returns, to be followed by the chorus, but this time with the growling. And yet another magnificent riff. The riff is now accompanied with the keyboard, and a little chanting. After some time, everything starts to fade out slowly, until only the wind is left, with a low keyboard in the background that reminds you of what you have just experienced. And then, it ends.

It lasts almost 50 minutes, but it feels like a second. It is as if you close your eyes and imagine yourself in ancient Scandinavia, in the sea after having pillaged many villages, now only wanting to return to your own, to your family. And when you open your eyes, you are you again. But you remember the journey, you remember the vision of a burning village, of the riches you looted, you remember as if it actually happened. And as long as you listen to this album, it did.