Moonsorrow is an enigmatic band which manages to satisfy the utmost expectations. It’s a band whose tracks, which are performed in Finnish, are likely to reach an average length of 15 minutes and makes a good impression through its unique genre of black metal with very strong neo-folk influences. Moonsorrow’s new album “Jumalten Aika” which in english means “The Age of Gods” succeeds in taking the listener in an epic journey of 67 minutes through the universe of norse mythology.
The album is started by the track which gives its name, “Jumalten Aika”. This one begins in a melodic vibe and the sound of the flute and the mouth harp – a most specific singing tool used by the band can be easily remarked, the two instruments making an harmonious mixture with the chorus voices. Right after this short starting passage the band makes a sudden leap to their black metal origins just to follow a soft tendency towards the folk influences and as the song runs, the instrumental part resembles to the atmospheric and melodic sound of the band Wintersun.
The song is an introduction and, at the same time, an invitation given to the listener to take a step into the Finnish mythological universe: “A son arises and soon fades away/ Yet the same song is mastered by those who follow.” Also, a brief presentation of the story on the album is made, which refers to the first God: “A circle was drawn here by the first of the gods/ Who left those remused wretches to circle it” and to the collapse of the Gods’ realm in order to be replaced by the mortals’ realm: “When stars received the sky/ And land was drawn on the sea/ Earth was taken by its living/ They build it to a kingdom/ For those to be born and to die.” The lyrics suggest also the temporary existence of humans which decompose into the black soil: “A song which told everything/ For those to be born and to die/For those to decompose in the black soil” and the inexorable time lapse: “A day is born and in a moment dies”.
“Ruttolehto incl. Paivattoman paivan kansa” is a musical composition which is noticeable due to its glorious beginning accompanied by a group of choristers upon which the rough blades of black metal are pointed. This track is extremely versatile, and often leaps from the soft singing of the choristers to the Ville Sorvali’s aggressive voice, joined by strong riffs and moderate speed double-kick drum. The end of the track called “Folk Of The Dayless Day” is the result of the band’s fascination for Lord Of The Rings story, folk elements being highlighted along with the chorus and the warm sound of the flute.
The lyrics of the song are inspired from the norse mythology, bringing up Odin –The God of war and death, who attained the supreme wisdom when putting himself to sacrifice. He hung himself to the Yggdrasil tree for nine nights and during all this time he didn’t eat or drink and hit himself with the spear. During this symbolic ritual he grows wisdom and enters the secrets of magic: “Those ancient signs/ Of secret witchery/ Of strength and of wisdom/ Of knowlegde of the beyond.” Odin is a God of death and war, this being strengthen by his cult that includes human sacrifice by hanging certain men by the tree in order to make a reminder of how he attained the wisdom of the runes. This creepy scene also appears on the album’s first cover, where we can see Moonsorrow’s logo hanged by the tree, along with the hung men.
“Suden Tuti”, the third track on the album “The Age of Gods” makes a strong contrast with the other songs. The dark, low, grunting and aggressive voice reveals the black side of the album. The track isn’t covered in that epic orchestra and neither there are chorus passages, but instead we can notice traditional Moonsorrow folk sounds.
The lyrics of “Suden Tuti”, which in English means “The Hour of the Holy”, depict Odin’s death. In Ragnarok apocalyptic day, Odin is torn apart and devoured by the giant wolf Fenrir: “The body is incarcerated/ Thoughts alone remain free/ The tongue of the wolf can not be fettered”. In norse mythology Ragnarok means Gods’ final saga and represents a major series of events which embodies a great foreseen battle that will ultimately result in the death of many gods including Odin, Thor, Freyr, Heimdall and Loki, natural disasters and a further drowning of the universe. Therefore “Day disappears, night disappears/ Trees fall, mountains crumble”.
It is said that this battle will be carried on by the family of gods, Aesir with Odin being their leader, along with the evil monsters and Jötunnii giants ruled by Loki. This God is among his sons, the wolf Fenrir and the snake Jormungand, guilty of causing this disaster. After this battle all the universe will collide, together with some of the gods, giants and monsters. The end of this world is a condition imposed by destiny because there is a prophecy made about this event and the gods are aware of their inexorable death and they understand that they cannot prevent Ragnarok to occur and this emerges from the last part of the track “Suden Tuti”: “Through the darkness my bright gaze finds the white walls/ Their clocks tick inevitably towars the perishing of your kind/ I breathe your air, I breathe freedom, and shall consume il all/ Far from all and amongst all Ragnarok awaits me.”
The fourth track, “Mimisbrunn”, tells the story of the giant Surtr who has a great role in Ragnarok. He will be part of the battle, carrying a flaming sword with him, and the flames that he will bring along will embrace the entire Earth. “On the frontier of three worlds/ Leaves on the ground at the spring of all/ The eternal giant in flames”. The prophecy states about the rebirth of the world also, that rises from the dark depths of the sea, more fertile and full of life and the Gods that survive will meet again. “Its sprigs they protect/ Enshrining knowledge/ The wisdom of an underwater world”. “Mimisbrunn” has an unique musicality and, in my opinion, it makes a strong addition to both the feeling and the message which the album bestows upon the listener.
The last track on “The Age Of Gods”, “Ihmisen Aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen)”, which means “The Age of Man (A Bow Into Darkness)”, marks both the end of the album and the end of the story. The anxiety in the beginning of the song resides until the 5th minute where an interlude is made, just for the song to be subsequently enforced with even more pagan metal. In the end we can hear the echo of Odin’s voice saying: “Destroy the harbinger of war/ Or I’ll curse you all for eternity/ And write my final chapter”.