Friday, 1 April 2016

Moonsorrow - ‘Jumalten Aika’ (Album Review)

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 1/4/2016
Label: Century Media


Moonsorrow has long been one of the more diverse, dynamic, and powerful bands associated with the black metal genre, and ‘Jumalten Aika’ will only build upon that reputation. While it’s certainly a mix of the band’s past and present, it’s also often at times catchy in a way that the band hasn’t always been before. You won’t find an ounce of filler on this album, and for a band predisposed to songs of fifteen-plus minutes, it’s always a remarkable achievement. ‘Jumalten Aika’ eclipses its predecessor, sitting comfortably beside the best albums they’ve ever created.

‘Jumalten Aika’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Jumalten Aika
2. Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa
3. Suden Tunti
4. Mimisbrunn
5. Ihmisen Aika (Kumarrus Pimeyteen)

Moonsorrow is:

Ville Seponpoika Sorvali | Bass, Harsh Vocals
Henri Urponpoika Sorvali | Guitars, Singing Vocals, Keyboard, Accordion, Jew's harp, Recorder, Tin whistle
Marko "Baron" Tarvonen | Drums, Acoustic Guitar
Mitja Harvilahti | Guitar, Harsh Vocals
Markus Eurén | Keyboard, Backing Vocals

The Review:

I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that Moonsorrow were one of the great bands of the 00s. Categorizing them as the same for the 10s is not as easy, because they’ve been a lot less active, as their new album, ‘Jumalten Aika’, is the band’s first in five years, and only the second of the decade so far. I also can’t say that absence has made the heart grow fonder because, truth be told, they don’t ever really leave my rotation. Part of that owes to putting out classic material both when they lean heavily toward folk metal, as well as when they lean more toward the black metal end of things. That lends itself to appealing to a number of different moods, and thus a higher likelihood of springing to mind when on the hunt for that “perfect” album for whatever I’m feeling over the course of a given day.

Moonsorrow has long been one of the more diverse, dynamic, and powerful bands associated with the black metal genre, and ‘Jumalten Aika’ will only build upon that reputation. While it’s certainly a mix of the band’s past and present, it’s also often at times catchy in a way that the band hasn’t always been before. A prime example of this would be “Suden Tunti” which, at seven minutes, is as close to Moonsorrow gets to a sprint, rather than a marathon. Beyond featuring one of the most infectious riffs you’ll hear all year, the accompanying drums are positively bouncy. It’ll likely be a shock to the system for anyone used to the band’s stoic and stern approach over the last several albums, but not to anyone familiar with a song like “Kylän Päässä” from the band’s debut. Woven throughout the buoyant drums and memorable guitar work is a host of folk instruments and rousing gang vocals, leading one to suspect the band is having a lot of fun rekindling their romance with folk music, and who could fault a band for that?

Throughout the other songs on ‘Jumalten Aika’, Moonsorrow touch on plenty of familiar sounds and styles, delving more into the folk side of things than they have in years, although they perform those folk elements better than they ever have before. Even at their most joyous, they stop well short of getting too campy (as you might find in a band like Finntroll or Korpiklaani), and there’s still plenty for the black metal purist to sink their teeth into as well.

More than anything,‘Jumalten Aika’ finds Moonsorrow at their most accomplished as songwriters, never letting the extended length of the album’s songs result in a lull. You won’t find an ounce of filler on this album, and for a band predisposed to songs of fifteen-plus minutes, it’s always a remarkable achievement. Still, it’s worth noting that ‘Jumalten Aika’ eclipses its predecessor, sitting comfortably beside the best albums they’ve ever created.

Jumalten Aika’ is available digitally here and on CD/LP here.


Band info: Facebook

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