MOONSORROW — Kivenkantaja

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MOONSORROW - Kivenkantaja cover
4.18 | 19 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2003

Filed under Viking Metal
By MOONSORROW

Tracklist

1. Raunioilla (13:36)
2. Unohduksen lapsi (8:17)
3. Tuhatvuotinen perintö / Jumalten kaupunki (10:42)
4. Kivenkantaja (7:39)
5. Tuulen tytär / Soturin tie (8:36)
6. Matkan lopussa (4:54)

Total Time: 53:48

Line-up/Musicians

- Ville Sorvali / Lead Vocals, Bass Guitar
- Henri Sorvali / Clean Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Choirs
- Mitja Harvilahti / Guitars, Vocals
- Markus Euren / Keyboards
- Marko Tervonen / Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

About this release

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MOONSORROW KIVENKANTAJA reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
MOONSORROW had already come a long way after starting as a laughable lumpen gathering of pissed off stray cats that found their way into the lo-fi underworld’s recording studio but quickly found that black metal sounded a tad more original when played with Nordic folk and quaint drinking songs. While not the inventors of the style, the band nevertheless channeled its potential into more fertile grounds and added epic atmospheres, irresistible melodies and legendary subject matter revolving around Norse mythology, paganism and the world of the Vikings. While concocting a satisfying anthemic and heroic style on their first two albums “Suden Uni” and “Voimasta Ja Kunniasta,” MOONSORROW suddenly got the progressive bug and created an even more intense larger than life album with the third release KIVENKANTAJA (“Stonebearer") which showcased a triumphant evolution in compositional fortitude and a knack for pulling out all the punches. Folk tinged extreme metal would never be the same.

In addition to the now established folk remedies and black metal bantering MOONSORROW found a new source of inspiration from neighboring Sweden in the form of Bathory’s Viking metal classic “Hammerheart.” Gone are the blatant drinking song jigs in grim reaper fashion and in are more nuanced compositions that offer the grandiloquence of galloping guitar riffs, epic percussive drive, synthesized cumulous cloud covers and chanting vocal exchanges that alternate between the raspy harsh metal vocals of Ville Sorvali and the powerful clean vocal style of Henri Sorvali backed up by a cranking choir effect. Vikings may have been Norse in origin but MOONSORROW with Finno-Ugric origins proves they have what it takes to summon the proper aural spectres to join their Western neighbors in a good game of pagan ritual worship and pilfering plunder but despite the Viking metal tag so carefully attached to their resume, the band itself insists that their style is nothing more than “epic heathen metal.”

Epic indeed right from the getgo as vocal chants and atmospheric creeping is suddenly rudely interrupted by the twin guitar stomping power of Henri Sorvali’s and Mitja Harvilahti’s pristine precisionism as they navigate the choppy progressive Viking waters and chug out the percussive counterpoints in rhythmic mode save the stray guitar solo fluttering into the sonicscape. Likewise the melodic development is provided by the one two punch of the myriad vocalists in cahoots with the keyboards which provide not only the proper ambient brume of mood setting schemata but also cranks out the extra touches of horn instrument sounds as well as wild woodwinds. Sticking to the Viking metal playbook despite contempt for the term, MOONSORROW bedazzles and enchants with the lush tapestry of folk instrumentation heard from the accordion, jew’s harp and fiddle (through the dirty little finger’s of guest musician Jaakko Lemmetty "Hittavainen.) Add the fretted and fretless bass of Ville Sorvali, the multitude of electric, acoustic and 12-string guitar strums and the percussive prowess of the skin and cymbal smasher in chief, Marko Tarvonen and most a exciting sonic storm is guaranteed to please the metalhead’s sensibiltiies.

Stretched out into five tracks of epic heathen metal splendor, KIVENKANTAJA is stuff that far reaching progressively inclined metal dreams are made of. While the Gregorian chant rich opening “Rauniolla (At The Ruins)” provides a rather gentle false sense of tranquility, the following “Unohduksen Lapsi (Child Of Oblivion)” provides the proper soul crushing metal bombast to keep the headbangers happy all the while layers of synth-drenches atmospheric touches ooze by in the background as the guitars stomp their way into the heat of battle. KIVENKANTAJA is where the classic sound of MOONSORROW gelled into its permanent state of awesomeness as all the ingredients and simmered down into a delectable stew of metal palatability. While the album keeps a great pace of mixing the heavier elements with the softer more sensual folk remedies, the final track provides a departure with a pure Pagan folk ritual along with the feminine divine goddess charm of guest vocalist Petra Lindberg. KIVENKANTAJA is equally as divine without missing a beat and cemented MOONSORROW’s status as one of the premier folk metal bands of the millennium.
Warthur
I tend to find the whole "folk metal" thing highly hit and miss, particularly when bands don't integrate the two halves of that formula but simply play mediocre metal and mediocre folk music together and hope that the charms of both sides of the equation smooth over the holes. Moonsorrow's Kivenkantaja, on the other hand, absolutely does not do that, integrating the sounds and motifs of Scandinavian folk music into a majestic, sweeping, almost cinematic metal framework. The compositions tend towards longer tracks with epic, progressive rock-esque structures, and the overall effect wouldn't seem out of place as the soundtrack to an adaptation of some pagan saga of ancient days.
Phonebook Eater
9/10

"Kivenkataja", for it's beautiful profoundness, should be considered a landmark Metal album of the new millennium.

Moonsorrow are one of the greatest Metal bands of the new millennium and have proved to be so with several albums, one of them is the masterpiece “Kivenkataja”, the third album, and the first album that is part of a trilogy of excellent works (the second one would be 2005’s “Verisakeet” and the final chapter 2007’s “V: Havitetty”.) This 2003 release proves how Moonsorrow in two years have shown a great difference in songwriting skills, structuring songs and arranging them: “Kivenkataja” indeed is a 100% Moonsorrow album that shows all of the band’s essential and best characteristics.

On one side, the style isn’t different: we’re talking about the usual, Pagan Black Metal/ Folk Metal influence here. But it’s so much more complex, profound and epic than the previous two releases, (beating even the wonderful “Voimasta Ja Kunniasta”) due to it’s superior instrumentation, more progressive influences, and overall perfected songwriting skills. All this together makes up something more than just great album: “Kivenkataja” rightfully should be considered a landmark Metal LP of it’s era, because of it’s uniqueness, richness, and especially, it’s haunting and evocative nature. Sure, Folkish instruments like the Jew Harp, accordion, flutes and many others were present in previous albums, however here, they have a major, essential role, and dominate completely some of the passages here, creating a well balanced equilibrium between the lush Folk moments and Black Metal influenced ones, which still have melodies driven by traditional Scandinavian canons. The Lyrics, being this Pagan Metal, although having pretty much the same themes as the first two albums, this time around are proposed and written in a much more poetic and vivid way: instead of focusing on battles and warriors, there is more detailed descriptions of nature, like in the opening track “Rauniolla”. The tone is more the one of a lonely, forgotten bard of the North, instead perhaps of a drunk one from a noble palace telling hackneyed stories of warriors and battles fought. It basically feels more of a realistic point of view.

The album starts off with the thirteen minute epic “Rauniolla”, quite possibly the best thing Moonsorrow has ever created: the melodies are, instead of being triumphant and full of testosterone, melancholic, a little resigned, solemn. Structured almost as a mini-suite, it features extremely diverse moments, from heavy riffs to beautifully evocative Folkloric ones. “Jumalten Kaupunki”, the second track, is heavier, with less atmospheric moments, and with a more triumphant tone, however still maintaining an impressive level of complexity and depth. The following track is yet another sort of mini, ten minute suite, using however completely different formulas from the ones used in the previous two tracks, giving the structure of the overall album a great flow so far. The title track is more of a traditional Folk Metal track, more ballzy and in-your-face, but it also shows explicit Prog Metal influences especially in the frequent rhythm changes; “Tuulen Tytar” is a mostly instrumental piece, half calm, half distorted and loud. It certainly is the odd one out of these six tracks, and gives yet again another touch of variety in the sound. The album closes with the short but gorgeously crafted “Maktan Lopussa”, a sad, beautiful, and very surprising song on behalf of Moonsorrow.

“Kivenkataja” has an amazing set of songs that together make one, solid and consistent album, despite the great amount of changes that distinguish one song from the other. One of the culminating peaks of Folk Metal music, a perfect model for all of the bands that are minimally interested in the genre.

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