Review Summary: Moonsorrow's second epic is a vast improvement on Suden Uni. Not only that, but easily a classic within the genre that cannot be missed and can only be described as faultless.
From the moment I first heard Moonsorrow, I knew instantly that this band needed a lot more attention than they have. They're still left in the shadows by other similar bands in the genre, but for me, Moonsorrow have put out more brilliant outings than anyone else. This album single-handedly displays what this genre is capable of in a spectacular array of brilliantly written songs which will mark you from the moment you hear them.
So, what makes this so good? For one, everything in this album just marries together like it was just meant to be. Secondly, the songwriting is so above average that it almost seems unreal that only one band achieved it. Thirdly, nothing sounds out of place here - everything has its merit and there are no true standout moments that overshadow any other moment. You'll never want to skip any of the tracks, because they all have a personality and sound all of their own - but they never break the brilliant Moonsorrow formula of simply slaying anything in its path.
Another worthy mention is the wonderful co-operation within the band and the sheer talent that practically spews from this album. There is some great playing on this album, and a great production makes every instrument shine in its own way. The wolf-like shrieks of Ville Sorvalli, the great guitaring, the wonderfully atmospheric keyboard work and the nigh-on perfect drumming are all perfectly audible and none seem to be too loud or quiet.
One big improvement here is the less obnoxious keyboards. Suden Uni perhaps was too keyboard orientated which took away from the appeal for me. It gave me somewhat of a cheesy power metal vibe. Lucky for us, they decided to take away from that and use a more atmospheric approach rather than in the in-your-face cheesy spew of happy drinking melodies in cheap keyboard synth sounds. Though the keyboards are still used in some songs to play the melody, they don't seem as obnoxious and the guitar seems to shine through a bit more - which is what the debut lacked. The balance between all the instruments here is fantastic, and it helps set a beautiful atmosphere.
However, the vocals conjure many of the highlights of the album. The beautiful chanting in Aurinko Ja Kuu
and the brilliant shrieking in Sankarihauta
are just two of the moments here that are simply magnified and captured by the brilliantly realized vocals. The Sorvalli brothers aren't the best vocalists in the world, but as composers, they know how to bring out the best in their voice and create a brilliant atmosphere, and most of all, moments in the music that touch you.
If that wasn't enough, Moonsorrow have crafted some of the best melodies I've personally ever heard - especially in this genre. The wonderful melody of the opener Tyven
, that also closes the album, is a beautiful melody you'll want to hear again and again. That's not the only one either. I can say with full confidence that every song on this album has a wonderful and memorable melody that you'll want to hear repeatedly. To top this off, Moonsorrow are capable of making some of the best structured songs I've heard in a long time. Perfect melodies that are organized perfectly by geniuses. Religious people can keep their heaven, Moonsorrow is here - and its the best alternative.
Naming a highlight song is incredibly difficult, as I mentioned before. But I will say this, the closing song on this album absolutely magnifies what is so brilliant about this band. The songs on this album don't feel their length, and Sankaritarina
is a great showcase of this. The near 15 minute epic relentlessly shows some of the best viking metal available. But really, every track here is a perfect representation of viking metal as a whole. Perfect if you're getting into the genre. I will say perhaps that Hiidenpelto
is probably the weakest song here. It drags a bit, unlike the other songs. But even then, it's still a very worthy listen - as is every song here.
Other than one minor niggle that is easily overlooked since the song is still enjoyable, this album is beautifully realized and easily one of the best albums in the genre. This was the perfect album to give Moonsorrow the attention they truly deserved within the viking metal community, and I'll be damned if I see it overlooked. Moonsorrow's second epic is a vast improvement on Suden Uni. Not only that, but easily a classic within the genre that cannot be missed and can only be described as faultless. God knows how they managed to top this with future offerings.