Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa (2011)


Endless touring can prove to be the defining achievement of your career. For Moonsorrow, tour after tour helped to build a loyal following of rabid fans, thirsty for more. For those people, three years was simply too long to wait for the next album to see the light of day. On Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa, the ninth release by this Finnish epic metal ensemble, every day spent waiting is rewarded.

Pounding drums and lingering distortion cut through the air, as "Tahdeton" comes to life. There is no shortage of fuel on this fire, as the band weave their way through eleven minutes of signature changes and countless arrangements. The vocals carve out a niche, falling somewhere between the typical black metal harshness, and screaming. Viking chants find a home, as do plentiful keyboard melodies. Guitar harmonics whine over the top, with no shortage of power. "Havitetty," a short interlude, brings visions of a wounded run through a snowy forest, breathing heavy.

Catch your breath when the opportunity arises, because "Muinaiset" will immediately knock the wind from your lungs. The drums are like thunder from the heavens, leading the way for a tremendous bass line. Keyboards and guitars are in sync at first, before the guitars break away in fast strumming flurries. Double bass kicks lay the bricks of foundation for the signature vocal stylings. The harshest of screams fill the track, interrupted only by instrumental breakdowns.The outro portion will have your first in the air, chanting along.

Your journey through the snow and cold continues on "Nälkä, Väsymys Ja Epätoivo," before the full on assault of "Huuto" comes crashing down upon you. The most powerful track the band have done to date, it is as well rounded as the band itself. The drums are dynamic, as always, with each kick/snare combo complimenting each cymbal sizzle. Keyboards and synths are highlightedat , taking over the melody. This allows the guitars to play backup, creating an atmospheric feel. The deeper growls emerge, seemingly from nowhere. An acoustic guitar pads out the layers, mixed with utmost perfection into the heavy structure.

Breathing gets heavier now, with "Kuolleille" taking you to the end of your path. Dropping to your knees, you let our an ear shattering scream. And "Kuolleiden Maa" begins. This is Moonsorrow at their epic best. The bass melodies will surprise you, while the double bass beatdown batters you. Once again, keyboards are the backbone of the track, clearing a path for crunchy guitars and startling vocals. The chanting found midway will bring a chill. The song breaks down, drums pounding away, the high pitch whine of a guitar feeding back. Until, finally, silence.

One tour after another, Moonsorrow reassert themselves in our consciousness. With this album, they have brought the energy and relentless attack of their live show into the studio, and managed to capture it on a disc. Each second of the seven track, hour long opus is well planned, well intentioned and well executed. The term "folk metal" simply does not do this justice. Epic heathen metal has a nice ring to it.


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