Review Summary: A solid and engaging, if a bit one-dimensional, folk metal album that keeps Moonsorrow's noteworthy discography flowing along without a hitch
Moonsorrow have always been a consistent band, even outside the stagnant and constricted confines of folk metal. It’s hard enough to create a folk metal album that doesn’t incapacitate its listener within the first few tracks; it’s even harder to create one that has any sense of replay value beyond the novelty value it may hold. So, for Moonsorrow to have almost an entire discography worth of impressive, if not noteworthy, albums is, well, unusual
. It should come as no surprise, then, for the band’s latest album Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
to be along the same lines; a solid folk metal album that is wary to step outside the strict bounds that Moonsorrow have cornered themselves into. But then again, their ability to write engaging material, however simple, is a talent they wield to its fullest potential; the sole asset that makes Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
as excellent as it really is.
That’s not to say that the album is full of boring slop that somehow, when mashed together, adds up to more than the sum of its individual parts, because that wouldn’t be doing the album justice. It’s a concept piece that follows in the lines of Viides Luku – Hävitetty
, set in a scene of a post-apocalyptic world that proves a stark departure from Moonsorrow’s Viking roots, but one that fans should be relatively comfortable with at this point. Naturally, the album follows this concept with a resounding focus, leaving in between the four “real” tracks on the album a set of interludes that serve to further the story, leading to the final culmination on the penultimate track “Kuolleille” and its subsequent partner “Kuolleiden Maa”, a track which is easily the most flowing and epic piece on the entire album. Leading up to this crescendo is a slew of the standard Moonsorrow repertoire: riffs that are constantly collapsing in the wake of another, building steadily higher and higher to create the unceasing epic feel that is so crucial to the atmosphere of Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
It’s epic in a different sense, though, than the kind found on Viides Luku – Hävitetty
. The album feels more like a soundtrack, composed to complement its underlying story, a trait that may seem off-putting to listeners who care little for what the album is about and instead are in it for the music solely and not the baggage to go along with it. The absolutely wonderful production on the album leaves nothing behind in the precarious void caused by a subpar mix, but also keeps the instruments and vocals in check, not letting often troublesome instruments like the keyboard sneak up behind and suddenly strangle the life out of the listener. The balance of things keeps the album flowing well, with the plucking of the bass as much a contributor to the album as Ville Sorvali’s sharp, biting scream. Overall, the album runs its course without much fuss, not doing anything wrong in any sense but not really jumping out at the listener with something completely unexpected. The guitar solo during “Kuolleiden Maa” does stand out as an element which comes out of left-field, the only really adventurous and technical guitar endeavor on the entire release.
The lack of variety and relative simplicity doesn’t stop Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
from being an undoubtedly worthwhile addition to Moonsorrow’s increasingly solid discography. When all is said and done, the album will remain as an engaging and fun release which is about as consistent a display as anyone could ask for. Is it superb" No. Is it excellent" Absolutely. Lofty expectations can often be the worst thing for a listener going into an album, and those who go into Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
expecting miracles or a vast reworking of Moonsorrow’s sound will not be happy. However, those who ease into the album expecting a solid folk metal album from a solid folk metal band will be downright giddy.