I do not do it for many bands, only those I have the utmost respect for. I did it for Moonsorrow. I relistened to their whole discography starting with Suden Uni and Voimasta Ja Kunniasta before, after and in between listening to the newest opus V: Havitetty. That was one of the reasons this review has taken me so long. Still, many of those listens taken in and I am not completely sure of where the band’s collective psyche has been when composing V: Havitetty.
If you do not know who Moonsorrow are you are obviously reading the wrong pages, but if you want an introduction to the band V: Havitetty is not Moonsorrow’s most definitive calling card. If you are a fan (but still have not acquired the album), and want clean, almost soothing, profusely folk melodies of Kivenkantaja, look elsewhere. Moonsorrow gave us a glimpse of where they might have been going next on Karhunkynsi (the first song of the previous album Verisakeet), and it is our own collective fault if we did not heed the advice.
I absolutely do not have an issue with the band’s ever increasing song length. V: Havitetty contains only two of them, 26+ and 30+ minutes long. The tracks progress, organically building up in monumental fashion repeating and revisiting riffs, melodies and lyrical passages. It is the super dark and gloomy attitude of Moonsorrow on this album that I can’t put myself squarely behind.
Describing individual “songs” or even portions of the tracks is utterly useless, but throughout the album it seemed to me that Moonsorrow, almost forcefully and purposefully, tried to expunge their self-labeling as a folk black metal band. Instead, we are presented with epic black Viking metal with minimal nascent Finnish elements. Whenever there is an acoustic guitar on Jäästä Syntynyt/Varjojen Virta, it has to battle for prominence with a large amount of distorted heaviness. Album’s production is more monolith, more wall-of-sound, not letting the individual instruments, like mouth-harp or keyboards, so prominent in Moonsorrow sound of the past come full force. Whenever accordion makes an appearance on Jäästä Syntynyt/Varjojen Virta, the atmosphere is still somber, pregnant with anticipation of something awful about to happen. The accordion makes a brief return next to an epic folk riff, amidst overall prevailing bashing and tragedy.
Tuleen Ajettu Maa makes use of shamanistic ritualistic chants, and has its original folk melody flow over percussive base. The song almost gets tired of itself being clean and acoustic, for using so missed and so beloved mouth-harp, then blastbeats kick in and the airy image is shed until a few flute strokes find their way back into the mix.
Starting with Kivenkantaja Ville Sorvali’s screams have been improving, but on V: Havitetty, they are pushed back, and those clean choruses Moonsorrow has been chided for are also used less. Vocals on this album, extreme or clean variety, simply glaze the music, rather than being an integral associated part.
Trying to search the source for the gloominess in the lyrics I could see that both Ice (Jäästä Syntynyt/Varjojen Virta) and Fight against the Gods (Tuleen Ajettu Maa), my own interpretation, do not invoke the most of happy emotions, but on V: Havitetty Moonsorrow has drifted much closer to Enslaved starting circa Below the Lights on as well as Thyrfing (is there a coincidence Thomas Vaananen is making an appearance here or is he simply out of a job after Jens Ryden took over?). No one is saying the shift is bad, or the band is not entitled to their vision, but it is definitely not what I expected. Granted, Moonsorrow would never be confused with Finntroll or Korpiklaani, but there is hardly any fun or soothing to be found on the V: Havitetty pages.
Moonsorrow has been a band I could play to my Finnish friend, who is playing hockey on our University team, and who is not that much into metal. Every time he would listen to a track he would exclaim: “This is our, Finnish, band”. I am yet to play V: Havitetty for him, but the sound here is much more general Scandinavian than truly Finnish. We’ll see what he says, and meanwhile I will continue spinning the album searching for the essence Moonsorrow tried to unveil.
Killing Songs :
80 / 100
Aleksie quoted 93 / 100
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