There are albums that are easy to review, albums that are hard, albums where indifference reigns and then there are albums such as "V - Hävitetty" by Finnish band MOONSORROW. I've been a very big fan of the band ever since their "Voimata Ja Kunniasta" CD and they always have had their own, a bit different sound, but even the increased progressiveness of previous album "Verisakeet" was in no way an indicator for what the Finns around the two Sorvali brothers would have in store for us with their fifth full-length, not at all!
"V - Hävitetty" is one of the hardest albums I ever had to review, not because I did not like the CD or anything, but rather because it is a true challenge to try to put this, this...behemoth of an album into mere words and still do it justice. A quick look at the playing time and the track list already hints at this album not being a catchy affair for a quick listen in the background, far from it, these two monumental tracks (30 and 26 minutes) need, no, demand attention for there is so much to take in without overwhelming the listeners that anything less than your full attention would be a half-assed attempt at saying that you tried, but that the album allegedly sucks.
If you look through the history of MOONSORROW, you will see that this band never stood still, but continuously evolved their style until they reached this highly ambitioned opus, which surely will cost them some of the fans with attention deficits, but in the end should manifest their status as one of the genre's leading act. Which brings me to the next problem I have - which genre ARE these Finns these days anyway? As you can see higher up, I simply put "Metal" for MOONSORROW have transcended their original category of Pagan Metal, now drawing from so many different influences that any more specific description would be far more miss than hit.
Opener (if you can call it that) "Jäästä Syntynyt / Varjojen Virta" sets out very quiet and atmospheric and it takes six minutes before the electric guitars set in, while continuing the slow-paced rhythm and it takes another few minutes until the song accelerates and the rough vocals jump in, together with melodic guitar work, leading into extensive epic passages with electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and much more, you can see the flat lands of Finland before you, in the light of a warm sunset, emanating pure emotion and atmosphere, this is big cinema, a true monument of a song, which will nail MOONSORROW right up there with the big ones of this genre!
And "Tuleen Ajettu Maa", so to say the closer of the album, shows a little bit more of a link to their former albums, with percussion and chant, acoustic guitar and mouth harp at the beginning, before turning into a slow-paced, epic song with the typical harsh vocals. Here we find acoustic guitars, percussion, accordion and mouth harp with clear vocals as well as slow heaviness with Black Metal vocals, but also some choir, at times almost taking on a symphonic edge, and at 13 minutes we see an aggressive blastbeat assault virtually attacking out of nowhere, before gradually lowering the heat again until we reach the slower tempos once more, but this time also incorporating a flute, pure genius!
"V - Hävitetty" is a big album in every aspect and sense of the word. It will definitely be too much for the fast food listeners, but will give all true fans of this music, who are willing to invest some time into it, something to sink their teeth into for a long time without becoming stale. Definitely a contender for a high Top 10 position in this year's Top 20 lists!
(Online January 15, 2007)