Review Summary: A serious, brilliant contender for album of the year.
When you look for music, you keep an ear out for something that sounds like a classic, something that suits your tasted, something that straight away screams 'buy me', and upon reading a review of this album and seeing it in a shop I thought; hmm, what's this then? A nearly one hour album with only two tracks mixing black , folk, death and epic metal into one? Bring it on!
Ville Sorvali - Vocals, Bass
Mitja Harvilahti - Guitars
Henri Sorvali - Guitars, Keyboards
Marko Tarvonen - Drums
Markus Eurén - Keyboards
(Each member played more than these instruments on this album though)
You might have figured straight away that this album isn't easy to listen to. You'd be more than correct, in fact, if you don't sit down and listen to this properly, you're probably going to miss how amazing it is. I did that the first time I listened to it, and dismissed the album as over ambitious and boring. I was so very wrong. Giving this another, more personal listen, I was blown away by the passion that has gone into the album. The anguished vocals, the emotional riffs, the powerful drumming, the groovy bass, at it's best, this album is simply and truthfully breath-taking. The lyrics are sung in Finnish but there is an English version in the cd booklet which speaks of an icy landscape with death and gore throughout. Despite the seemingly indulgent song-lengths of the 2 tracks on the album, neither one resorts to simple repetition or rehashing of ideas. Moonsorrow generally do use what would be considered by some to be excessive repetition, but the key is that it never gets monotonous because the melodies upon which the songs are built are so moving and well-crafted. This is obviously melody-centered metal as opposed to riff-centered metal, yet it still feels heavy and epic without being overly bombastic.
The first half of the album starts slowly, with the sound of a fire quietly building up with ominous keyboard work behind it. The atmosphere is fantastic already, and while the intro is about two and a half minutes long, you find yourself already being drawn into the music. At three and a half minutes some simple, chanting is brought in with the acoustic guitars and the easily distinguishable bass, which is a high point throughout the album. Moonsorrow don't start bringing in the power until the sixth minute, when the music suddenly gets more menacing and we get treated to a tortured scream from the singer. This is about the time you realize how good the production is, every instrument is loud enough to be heard yet none overpower any part of the album, even the singer doesn't lead the music like most bands, his vocals are actually quite quiet and sometimes get drowned out by the guitars and drums.
The bands best asset is to make the listener feel emotion in there music, it invokes the same sort of feel Crimson by Edge of Sanity does in that the music clearly changes at different parts of the story, going loud and fast at times but going on a slower pace at other points. Apart from the emotions of the album, technically, it is a masterpiece, the riffs are original and splendid, the vocals are a quite unique scream/snarl, and the drumming is consistently great, and unlike most other albums in metal worldwide, the bass is obvious and splendid throughout. Setting the pace and weaving in the drums and guitars like silk, it is simply a joy to listen to, there are also other instruments well played, the keyboards standing out the most, keeping the atmosphere going when the album slows down. The transitions between certain sections move in an elegant manner and if the listener isn’t paying attention, they might not even notice the almost subtle movements or turns they’ll take during these moments.
What makes this album so much better than most released this year, is the ambition of the band. They have quite clearly played their hearts out on this album, the songs are beautifully written and played perfectly, there are too many stand out moments in both songs to mention and after listening you end up feeling like you've just read a great novel. What really actually astounds me about the writing on this disc is the feeling of continuity and various thematic elements that ring true in several parts of one song, and then the other. Not to say that the songs sound exactly the same, but there’s a tinge of meaning and connection between the songs that make sense and are able to relate to one another. Trying to explain why this album is such a majestic triumph is like trying to explain why getting to the top of everest is such an overwhelming feeling, eventually, all you can say is; you have to experience it for yourself.
"This is how it ends, I can see it now
This page will be the last
This is how it ends, to emptiness, to oblivion
And none will ever return"