Proud they stand in the bow of the dragonship cutting through the raging waves of the Northern seas, their swords by their hands and the torches flickering under the onslaught of the storm… Even though some people around here find it ridiculous, when bands take up imagery of the Vikings and surroundings, those same people find it ok, if bands sing about raping corpses, burning churches or dismembering everything in sight. Weird isn't it?
Finland's MOONSORROW are bringing us stories from the past on their third album "Kivenkantaja", follow up to the widely acclaimed "Vomasta Ja Kunniasta" album of 2002. And as their songs completely are in Finnish, they've been so nice to provide us with English translations for all of them, so that we, too, can take part in what they want to tell us.
Now who knows me, my reviews and my profile, know that I absolutely love the self titled debut of their countrymen ENSIFERUM, so when there is an album that one could describe as comparable, how big are the chances that I like it? Rather high, exactly. And from the get-to of "Kivenkantaja" (which by the way means "Stonebearer") with "Rauniolla" (meaning "At The Ruins") I am captured by this album, which is more than able to bridge the time until I can lay my hands on a new ENSIFERUM album.
Measured rhythm, epic melodies, an accordion introduce this song, then expanding into an immensely epic and melodic song with measured tempo and both excellent clear and also harsh vocals, plus great choirs and the typically folkish melodies, brilliant opener, the more than 13 minutes rush by as If it was 3, I love this CD already now! And even though with some bands the harsh Black Metallish vocals disrupt the flow and atmosphere, with MOONSORROW (just like with ENSIFERUM) they blend in perfectly, giving the whole thing another dimension that is in no way disturbing or anything, great!
Following "Unohduksen Lapsi" ("Child Of Oblivion") then floors my with its dynamics and the great atmospheric heaviness that surrounds those beautiful melodies and if anybody ever had doubts that keyboards, accordion and mouth harp can enhance a song and add to the quality and atmosphere, listen to this song and you shall hear! And those huge choirs on "Jumalten Kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen Perintö" ("City Of The Gods/Legacy Of A Thousand Years") plus the accordion, some fiddle and arpeggios, brilliant!
"Kivenkantaja" uses the accordion, mouth harp, harmonium and fiddle to biggest possible effect, while "Tuulen Tytär/Soturin Tie" ("Daughter Of The Wind/The Way Of A Warrior") is introduced purely acoustic, with the fiddle, great way to start out a song, sounds really authentic… Then they add drums and electric guitars, maintaining the spirit of before, building up this song more and more, before closing "Matkan Lopussa" ("At The Journey's End") is completely acoustic, with Petra Lindberg as lead singer, plus the choir, a traditional Finnish folk song, in this version just awesome!
But all of these songs cannot be reduced to what I could put into my hardly sufficient words, because they are so much more, with so many layers, shades and shifts, without ever getting progressive or even complex, one has to experience "Kivenkantaja" for her/himself, because this is an album to be beheld, words cannot do this justice! (Online May 22, 2003)