If my favourite Pagan Metallers reached epic majesty with “Kivenkantaja”, which they did in my opinion, “Verisäkeet” (“Bloodverses” in English) paints the five heathens as bloodthirsty Vikings, bloodthirsty warriors of the one eyed god. The name MOONSORROW is already carved into the halls of Valhalla, they’ve got nothing to prove after “Kivenkantaja”, it was a flawless record, so what do you do, you get nasty and harsh! I like the fact that they made certain medias look like assholes so busy swallowing every bit of crap you tell them, I mean did you honestly think for one second that these guys were going to release a grind album? Sure there’s always a possibility but come on… we’re talking about MOONSORROW.
Sounds of nature, epic, folk atmospheres contra creepy Black Metal and BURZUM schooled vocals, that’s how these five new songs are built from scratch on the drawing board. Upon completion the band made sure not to forget the extra details and small surprises buried somewhere in the vast grimness and atmospheric bravery.
Those who didn’t follow the recordings of the new album will be in for a minor shock. The band informed the end result would be faster and grittier while still keeping their well known epic and folksy atmosphere but loose some of the progressive arranging. For a taste of this sound just start the album and let “Karhunkynsi”, the most brutal track ever in the band’s song catalogue, rage out of the speakers. The first half of the song is pretty hooky, kinda merry and heavy, I feel like having a beer and then five minutes of speedy blast beats and black dyed sounds of Norway (they put the bass higher in the mix this time) start running all over the place, the gulping of alcohol is postponed and I place my beer back to the table and think MAYHEM. Some people, even new fans might have some problems with the old school beating, I’ve come to like it more and more because the song’s still a mini epic and well balanced.
Vocalist Ville Sorvali doesn’t concern himself with too many clean vocals because they aren’t that vital this time, yet they cannot be excluded and show up here and there adding a melodic texture to a suiting part. His dying screams are very effective and somewhat disturbing at the same time, this guy bleeds his throat as if he had only seconds left to live, I don’t think many can pull of such desperate screams and wait til’ you hear the cried out vocals of “Jotunheim”, if I didn’t know better I’d say he’s trying to summon the ancient gods to rise and conquer once more.
Despite a heavier and more brutal album, the songs are actually longer than anything the band has ever done with an average length of fourteen minute playing time in every track, mostly because every song has a slow build up before the real adventure starts. The epic aura still surrounds, some primitive passages dirty up the songs and makes them more battlesome and I still get a perfect picture of mead drinking men roaming and plundering the highlands, barrows and forests sent to burn every village that is found while engaging the foe in glorious battle, it’s still an intense ride through the grand world of MOONSORROW.
The album’s masterpiece “Jotunheim” has drained me of power countless times. This twenty minute mammoth is enthralling in every second, Sorvali’s tortured soul pleads for release, I really don’t know if I should feel sorry for him or praise him for such hardcore authenticity. The lullabied lead harmonies and proud choirs take the song so much higher, the melodic side definitely works the magic in some of the parts, simply a big sounding fucker that didn’t necessarily have to end with five minutes of Mother Nature whispering in the distance hehe.
Since I loved and worshipped the last album, it took some time to get used to the raw aesthetics, not to mention the sound and although not as good as “Kivenkantaja”, “Verisäkeet” is a different but great album that will undoubtedly get mixed response from the crowd. I like it, don’t back away just because it has more Black Metal than you’d like, you’ll still get your harps, accordions and fiddles and you can’t blame them for being on the move, who knows, maybe they have a full acoustic campfire album ready for us, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. (Online April 8, 2005)