Review Summary: Tulimyrsky is an excellent EP that should hold over any fan waiting impatiently for Moonsorrow’s next full-length release of new material.
Moonsorrow’s 2007 release, V: Havitetty
, was one of the year’s greatest surprises. A two-track, 60 minute trek through cohesive and thankfully diverse folk metal, one that tried its hand in black metal and came out stronger for it. Needless to say, it made me a fan – an avid fan – and skepticism was masked by excitement when the band announced a 70-minute EP. Now, let’s be honest here: 70 minutes, no matter who you are or what you’re playing, is not an appropriate length for an EP. And with only one new track, it just doesn’t seem to warrant Tulimyrsky
’s full existence, especially considering that one new track is longer than most EPs even aspire to be.
That being said, let’s get this next little tidbit out of the way: Tulimyrsky
cking rules. Moonsorrow have made another monstrous masterpiece, one that should sedate even the most die-hard fans. The title track should especially wet the appetite of any fan craving a new, full-length follow up, and as the album’s opener, it sets the bar at lofty heights for what follows after (and whatever else Moonsorrow have geared up to shoot out of their arsenal). As the EP’s opener, it takes the basic concept of any number of the tracks on V: Havitetty
and ups the ante, displaying an admirable range of dynamics and brutality. If anything, “Tulimyrsky” is an apt example of atmosphere, its production a fog rolled in off the coast, crowded with the lapping of waves and the sounds of seagulls crossing over the spoken intro. Moonsorrow have a firm understanding of anticipation, creating anxiety out of the minimal reverb and violins before Ville Sorvali’s primal scream jumps out, finally, at the 4-minute mark, and rises into the full-band kick-off.
At 29-minutes, “Tulimyrsky” is longer even then the latter half of V: Havitetty
, and possibly even better, too. Melodic and relentless, “Tulimyrsky” is expertly paced with blast beats and group chants, slipping in and out of transitions fluently. Moments like the one at the 13-minute mark are stylish in their homespun roots, an obvious nod to the band’s Finnish background, full of clean guitars and strings without ever coming off cheesy or gimmicky. The track’s final stretch, which slides almost completely into the sonic surroundings of its black metal influence, is an album highlight, with Sorvali proving impressive with a raw performance that couldn’t have been easy on his vocal chords. As the track concludes (with a bang without a hint of a whimper), it’s tough to call how the album could possibly follow it up without falling flat, so it’s more a compliment to the band’s abilities as artist that Tulimyrsky
does well to justify its existence.
The album’s two re-recorded tracks, which were featured on Moonsorrow’s demos Tämä Ikuinen Talvia
, sit easily beside ‘Tulimyrsky” as the EP’s best, their limited-in-context running times creating brief, if still epic, respites from their predecessor. “Taistelu Pohjolasta” in particular is a standout, putting an emphasis on long passages of riffs, mingling in appropriately over-the-top keyboards and horror theatrics. Guitarist Henri Sorvali is especially strong, filling the running times with enough progression to keep the songs from ever becoming stale. On “Taistelu Pohjolasta,” it’s the stop-and-start mechanics that bring attention back to the song, and the song’s closing moments of climaxes; in “Hvergelmir,” Henri puts an emphasis on soaring melodies that sound like patriotic anthems. “Hvergelmir”’s languished clean-picked finale is a fine and off-kilter closing statement to such a powerhouse of a song, but it works well.
Only the covers prove a problem on the otherwise outstanding Tulimyrsky
. That’s not saying they’re not good in their own right, especially since the cover of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is an improvement on the original, taking the original and employing it with a more powerful black metal finesse. The clean group chants are particularly satisfying, and Sorvali slides easily into James Hetfield’s role and provides an argument that Moonsorrow could use more of his cleaner vocals. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” only really flounders in its fade out and could have used a more concrete finish. Tulimyrsky
’s weakest moment then is the cover of Merciless’ “Back to North,” which weakens the momentum substantially, lacking the cathartic punch of the preceding “Hvergelmir” that could have easily, and more successfully, ended the album. Even Sorvali sounds weaker here; his cries are strained and harsh against what is otherwise a rather good hook.
Even so, Tulimyrsky
("firestorm") is a must have for even a passing fan of Moonsorrow, and is a good starting point for anyone interested in what the fuss is all about. Had the covers been cut altogether and released instead as b-sides, Tulimyrsky
could have stood strong beside V: Havitetty
as Moonsorrow’s finest outings. But in its final state, the EP is still a great listen, and should last any fan until the band’s new LP. And if “Tulimyrsky” is any indication, the next album should be well worth the wait.