Moonsorrow - _Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa_
(Spinefarm Records, 2011)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (9 out of 10)
Every music fan knows that metal is not for everyone. Every metal fan knows that some kinds of metal, the more extreme ones, are not for everyone. Every extreme metal fan knows that black metal isn't for everyone. Every black metal fan knows that black metal with Finnish lyrics is not for everyone. Yet somehow, Moonsorrow have succeeded with flying colors in blurring these borderlines with their colossal sixth album _Varjoina Kulljeme Kuolleiden Maassa_. Don't worry about pronouncing that right; I too have no knowledge of this obscure language from the cold, flat north. But the idea here is not in the lyrics or the story alone; it is in the entire album that immediately sets a stage of damp, frozen wilderness where one searches in despair for a deeper meaning.

The translations are available online, but those who know Finnish are the luckiest of all because they can read the lyrics in the native tongue. As for myself, I was more than satisfied with the music alone, but then I read the translations provided by the band to the loyal fans who actually bought the CD and I was irreversibly hooked. The Sorvali cousins and Co. have churned out an hour's worth of music that transcends all languages and genres through which they masterfully convey the experience of finding one's way through a cold, desolate, ravaged and war torn land; one much like that on the album's cover.

The sixty-one minutes are distributed over four epics and three interludes between them. The guitars are played with a perfect tone that can't really be compared to anyone else. The drums sound exactly right with the bass guitar providing the adequate support and the keyboards come in at some very clever moments. The vocals are almost exclusively done with the classical black metal shriek, but with a lot of character and some enunciation as well. You'd be surprised when you catch the album title among the lyrics in the last track "Koulleiden Maa" ("The Land of the Dead"). The riffs and their arrangements are eerily absorbing as they paint the album's bleak picture, while the haunting effect of the vocals complements it rather brilliantly. The keyboards are kept at a certain volume that creates a brooding effect which symbolizes the harrowing winds from these frosty, ravaged lands.

"Huuto" ("The Scream") and "Kuolledein Maa" are certainly the more graphic epics on this magnum opus. The panic and anxiety are gradually amped up bit by bit throughout their total length of thirty-two minutes, and the intermediary track "Kuolleile" ("For the Dead") serves as a most fitting transition from one monster of a track to another. This album is quite a lesson in flow and coherence. There are lots of bands out there that can come up with some intriguing tunes and finish 'em of with some good drums and catchy vocals, but that is like having fast food for dinner. With _Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolledein Maassa_, Moonsorrow have successfully concocted the metal equivalent of slow cooking a multi-course meal for loved ones and enjoying every last bite of it.


(article published 12/2/2012)

1/18/2007 N Shahpazov 9 Moonsorrow - V: Hävitetty
4/19/2005 C Flaaten 9.5 Moonsorrow - Verisäkeet
10/6/2003 Q Kalis 8.5 Moonsorrow - Kivenkantaja
9/1/2002 Q Kalis 9 Moonsorrow - Voimasta ja Kunniasta
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