MOONSORROW — Voimasta ja kunniasta (review)

MOONSORROW — Voimasta ja kunniasta album cover Album · 2001 · Folk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Considering themselves “epic heathen metal,” the Helsinki, Finland based MOONSORROW followed in the footsteps of bands like Skyclad and Amorphis to incorporate local folk music flavors into extreme metal and in the process found ways to carve a new niche for themselves. While the band began more as a Norwegian second wave black metal clone, brothers Ville and Henri Sorvali really stepped up their game for the debut “Suden Uni,” which showcased a more sophisticated approach of melding together the aforementioned elements however on their sophomore album VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA (“Of Strength And Honor”), MOONSORROW really took a quantum leap in quality and although i didn’t find the debut the least bit uninteresting, on this this one a new synthesis of the disparate sounds certainly did rise to the next level.

While “Suden Uni” was profound, VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA introduces the world to a more epic approach of black metal and ethnic folk fusion with a step towards more progressive pastures. One of the distinguishing features of this second full-length offering is the arrival of second guitarist Mitja Harvilahti who along with Henri Sorvali gives the band a much fuller twin guitar attack sound. Dare i say that VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA also dishes out much more memorable folk hooks as well? Everything seems to click for the band and their much lauded and idiosyncratic approach to folk metal comes into fruition here. Except for the short instrumental intro, the tracks are quite lengthy ranging from seven and a half minutes to nearly fourteen, however the repetitive folk hooks are mesmerizing even as the black metal bombast pummels the senses.

Generally speaking, MOONSORROW at this stage are clearly a black metal band with the characteristic traits of orotundity that includes incessant tempos, buzzsaw guitar action and tremolo picking as well as shred vocals, percussive blastbeats and muddy distortion however the folk elements take it into an entirely new direction and not just for novelty’s sake. This is a true marriage of ethnic folk and black metal. The folk aspects take the metal into more melodic sophistication that allow the chord progressions to carry a deeper meaning as well as the keyboard rich atmospheric backdrops that have been toned down since the previous album. While “Suden Uni” allowed clean vocal non-metal segments to find their way into the mix, VOIMASTA JA KNNIASTA is pretty much an intense black metal fusion all the way through with only a smattering of acoustic guitar intros and breakdowns popping up from time to time. Clean vocals are reserved for the backing vocals only.

MOONSORROW mastered here a nice collection of five tracks that each have a distinct personality. Some such as “Hiidenpelto - Häpeän Hiljaiset Vedet (”Field of the Devil/The Silent Waters of Shame") focus more on the melodic developments while some like “Aurinko ja Kuu (The Sun And The Moon)” break out a more thrashy metal heft and emphasis on the heaviness without sacrificing the folk intricacies. The true treat is saved for last as the sprawling epic “Sankarihauta (Warrior’s Tale)” begins with sensual ocean wave sounds and slinks on through several developing features which include a health dose of blackened folk metal prowess, a distinct folkened melodic escapade sallies forth into the heat of battle and nice a alternating mix of atmospheric oomf between the metal stomps and acoustic folk inserts. Overall VOIMASTA JA KUNNIASTA is an excellent development in MOONSORROW’s history but personally i don’t think it’s better, just a nice different path to embark upon.
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