Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Moonsorrow - Jumalten aika

Moonsorrow is a band that combines folk metal, heathen elements, epic battles, and blackened metal to create something so unique and amazing that since first hearing them in 2003, they have become my all time favorite band. Will that make this review of their brand new seventh full length album, Jumalten aika, a bit biased? Perhaps, but the quality of their music speaks for itself. With every album they have seemed to take their sound a bit further. Their last three albums seemed to be going into a darker direction; inserting more black metal into their sound. But with Jumalten aika, we see the band combining their elements from entire career into one epic album that is nothing short of perfect.

This album is epic from start to finish but this emphasis on long epic songs seems to turn some fans off. Even though they were never known for having songs that were less than six minutes, they seemed to only include one or two songs over ten minutes in length. With Verisäkeet they began making the long epics the rule and not the exception. Why this was an issue is beyond me because Moonsorrow is not a song band but an album band. By that, I mean that their albums take you on a musical journey and should be consumed in their entirety and not on a song by song basis. Most of their songs segue right into each other anyway. Jumalten aika is an album that continues the cycle of predominantly long songs obviously because this album fills up an hour and seven minutes with just five songs. Not every band is able to do this and still create a coherent album. Moonsorrow not only pulls it off, with this album they have perfected it.

The title track starts it off with some flute, drums, and mouth harp. Right away you are taken back into time where the ancient gods ruled. The English translation of the album title and this song is The Age of Gods so the music fits right in with the subject matter. As the vocal chants lead to the bombastic riffing you can feel the epic nature of this song. At almost thirteen minutes in length, there is no time where this song meanders or bores you. Instead is slowly builds as it moves along, only slowing briefly in the middle, then continues it momentum to this magnificent crescendo. The song ends abruptly but segues right into the next song, "Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän päivän kansa." This fifteen plus minute epic is sheer brilliance from beginning to end using their tried and true formula of taking you on that journey to the old world. There is an amazing folk part in the middle that includes flutes and chanting then the choirs come in to give you the chills. The last few minutes of the song are clean choirs and folk melodies including the unmistakable vocals of Jonne Järvelä of Korpiklaani fame.

"Mimisbrunn" is ,quite possibly, the best song that Moonsorrow has ever done. The opening melody reminds me a bit of "Jotunheim" from Verisäkeet as the song slowly builds to this amazing melody with vocals that are so intense. The English translation of this song is Mimir's Well, the well that contained so much wisdom that Odin gave his eye to drink from it. There are so many layers to this song and each one is more intense and more incredible than the other. The melody in the middle with the flutes providing melodies simultaneously with the guitars is just chilling. Mere words can not describe the feeling I get from this song. The album ends with another amazing epic, "Ihmisen aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen)." Clocking in at sixteen minutes flat, this epic song is the album's crescendo as all of the songs were building to this monster of a song to close the album. The intensity of the melodies and the pure emotion in the vocals are absolutely mesmerizing. The brief acoustic break in the middle fits just perfectly as the song builds to a finale only to end with just vocals over what sounds like campfire.

Once again, Moonsorrow has created an album that is the epitome of perfection. The fact that they took their time to create an album of this magnitude shows throughout the entire album. This is not just a mere collection of songs put together to fill up an hour. Instead, this is a composition in five parts. Each part can stand on it's own but when they put these parts together they created something absolutely brilliant. This album is why they are my all time favorite band.