Finnish MOONSORROW so far had been known as one of the leading Viking Metal bands, not only of Finland, now their fourth full album “Verisäkeet“ is spinning and it is absolutely not what I had expected, after “Kivenkantaja” was quite compact, super epic and with big choirs, the new long player hits an unusual curb. Instead of furthering this style and refine it, the band around the Sorvali brothers surprises with bulky and long compositions between eight and almost 20 minutes, so no acoustic Viking fast food. And they also upped the heaviness by the slash of an axe on top of that.
With the opener “Karhunkynsi“, in English “Bear Claw“, the band throws a 14-minute lump at the listener, beginning with the sounds of nature, before a massive guitar wall introduces the song itself. And in it heavy Pagan Metal sounds (according to Henri Sorvali they never have been Viking Metal) go hand in hand with passages purely made up from violin, drums and Jew’s Harp, when they mix it all together they even throw in some accordion, while they vocally level out complete forests and completely denounces the previously so seminal choirs, just to waltz down the listener with a fat Black Metal blastbeat tornado later on in the song.
And also the following “Haaska“ (“Carrion“) breaks through the 14-minute-mark and combines the newly found ferocity with the more epic sounds of the predecessor and it becomes clear that despite the opulent playing times the song structures always stay accessible and thought through enough to avoid any kind of boredom. But do not make the mistake of equalling “accessibility” with “catchiness”, because compared to the previous albums of the Finns you have to listen to “Verisäkeet” more often and also with more concentration to find the entrance to the compositions, what should not be viewed as negative now.
But the heart piece of the album without a doubt is the more than 20-minute “Jotunheim“, which sets out with acoustic guitars, then turns in to a very epic song, broken by a scream of Ville that could level a fully grown tree, altogether very widescreen and with a tension that manages to stay high all the way through, a masterpiece for itself.
So “Verisäkeet“ without a doubt has been a surprise, one hard to digest on top of that. MOONSORROW have lost some of their catchiness, which might miff a few of their fans, but if you give the album time and attention, it will grow on you and it could very well be the album that could re-define the band and let them step out from the shadow of FINNTROLL. (Online February 20, 2005)