Moonsorrow // Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
Rating: 5.0/5.0 —A Masterpiece
Label: Spinefarm
Websites: moonsorrow.com | myspace.com/moonsorrow
Release Dates: UK: 21.02.2011 | EU: 28.02.2011 | USA: Unknown

Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden MaassaMoonsorrow is one of the few bands I can think of that no one I know doesn’t like. They seem to unite all fans of underground metal because of their amazing music and authenticity. Let’s face it, a band who writes 15 minute dirges in their native, and arguably alien, tongue doesn’t want for authenticity. Only a few other bands I can think of, like Primordial and Enslaved really have the respect of everyone in what they do. It’s like they’re playing on another plane of existence or something. That, predictably, raises expectations for new Moonsorrow records through the roof (to say the least). But unlike others, Moonsorrow never fails to deliver and Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa (Like Shadows we Walk through the Land of the Dead) is a monument to what atmospheric black metal should be like and to Moonsorrow‘s impeccable legacy.

Coming four years after the band’s superb, and ridiculously epic V: Havitetty, Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa is similar in scope and sound to both it’s forerunner and Veriskeet. The songs are huge, sweeping arrangements with black metal screams and interspersed viking chants that pull one back to Bathory‘s viking metal era. Peppering all of these dirgey tracks is folk inspired keyboards, accordions and folk melodies and ideas that stick with the listener long after the record has quit playing. Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa also has 3 intercut tracks that sound like someone walking through the snow (a legacy of Ulver we will never escape) and, finally, dying (?) in it. It’s hard to say because of language difficulties and no access to lyrics, but the record flows in a way so that there is a sense of a journey from the opening strains of “Tähdetön” (Starless) to the closing chords of “Kuolleiden Maa” (Land of the Dead), which incidentally are the same. A story reaching its close.

Moonsorrow - 2011Of the four epic tracks “Huuto” is definitely my favorite. Melodically it builds a gorgeous theme at the beginning which is held throughout, but has a lot of different strains that really show off the talent of the band, in my opinion. I think largely because of the drone and repetition, it’s easy to get lost in the fact that Moonsorrow actually has some progressive tendencies. Here they show up in different places, including several areas with rotating time signatures that are cleverly disguised and that feel heavy and shake you without feeling disjointed. But the wall of sound that is built here, and it really can only be described as a wall, with the drums like distant cannons and the bass almost lost in the mix but rumbling like thunder, is something that sweeps over the listener a little bit like watching the rain come at you from across a field. All those sounds blend together, and  yet each is distinguishable, and in the case of Moonsorrow, each is excellent (the bass work on this record deserves a special mention for being excellent).

If there is a ‘low point’ about this album, I can’t find it. I guess it would have to be track three “Muinaiset,” which is arguably the weakest of the four tracks, but since that still makes it better than anything else I’ve heard this year I guess I’d say there is no weakness contained within. Instead, Moonsorrow has given us everything that listeners want: epic, ponderous, thoughtful, melodic, folky black metal in one big slab that you could never imagine listening to as separate tracks. This record deserves to be listened to in an atmosphere that matches its darkness, melancholy and genius. And as the first perfect record of the year, it is incumbent upon you to purchase it.

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  • Ernesto

    WOOOOOW, I just can’t wait to have this record in my hands!!! One of my all time favs, Verisäkeet is such a masterpiece!!! and so are all of their albums……hell, even their demos are astonishing.

    Horns raised and filled to Moonsorrow!!

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      It is 100% masterpiece and you should buy it.

  • Wymps

    AMG, did you mean “…Moonsorrow NEVER disappoint…”. “Never fail to disappoint” sounds pretty negative. Not trolling, I just think it sounds a little confusing.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Yeah, just a mistake that I missed. Corrected.

  • Alatariel

    “never fails to disapoint”??? are you SURE this is what you wanted to say? The rest of your text kind of points to the “never disapoint” or “never fail to satisfy/amaze/something-else-positive” interpretation, so…

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Yeah, my bad. Editorial miss.

  • Henkka

    Finnish song, album and other titles are written like this:
    “Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa”. Only names and the first word are capitalized.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Thanks for the tip! Because Finns, Swedes and other Europeans tend to do the opposite in English (i.e., not use English rules), then I consider it revenge. ;)

  • RoboRed

    Good review. Regarding your comment about the ‘low point’ and ‘high point’ on the album, “Huuto” was at first also my favorite and I thought that “Muinaiset” was not as special. Interestingly, after awhile, the two songs traded places, and now I can’t get over the amazing section in “Muinaiset” which starts at 3.20 or 3.40, and lasts until 4.35. The escalation in the music is so powerful that you feel out of breath by the end of it. Of course, the whole album is a masterpiece, just like you rated it.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      I definitely love that part with the chants. The song is great, I’m just saying that if one had to choose, it gets the lowest place. I can’t think of anything that’s bad about this record.

  • pedroty

    I dont know how good this is… but for me the firts masterpiece goes to The Projec Hate MCMXCIX – Bleeding The New Apocalypse, i would like to see what you think about this one.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      The Project Hate gets reviewed tomorrow, I think.

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  • http://www.lebmetal.com Rami Rouhana Lebmetal.com

    I suggest LUMSK’s album “Asmund Fraegdegjevar”

  • Sly Raven

    There is no more beatiful and epic music for me. I thought that Moonsorrow have reached there apogee with albums V Havitetty and Tulimyrsky, but I was wrong. This album is something incredible! You can’t just sit and invent such music. It comes up itself in the heads of geniuses such as Henri and Ville Sorvali. There is no any commercialism in this band. They write music with there hearts and souls. This is a real enduring masterpiece not only in metal, but in all world music!

  • Ernesto

    I’ve listened to the album twice and I need no more….definetly one of the best albums this year will have!!! I can trace some parallels with “Verisakeet” (long songs with natural sorrounding sounds in between), but they are epic as ever! By now, I think it’s far better than “V:Havittety” and “Tulimyrsky”.

    This is how epic colossal metal should always sound….

  • Brian M

    Cannot wait to get this!

    My favorite Moonsorrow album so far is Tulimyrsky. I just love the low chants in the background of the first tract!

  • tiagón

    WHAT? “Muinaiset” is the BEST track of the album, I’m listening to it over and over! you don’t know anything about metal!!!1!

    (just kidding. thanks for the great review! google brought me to your site today, adding to my rss reader now!)

  • anonymouscoward

    Well I would like them to do more songs like Huuto
    and tulimyrsyky ( especially the 2 parts when the music gets sweet and exhilarating after a long drone in low octaves ), beause most of their songs are really in low octaves and not sweet sounding.

    I know it’s not immediately clear what I mean by ‘sweet’, but I guess something like ‘sagas’ by equilibrium, or most of equilibrium songs ( except for des sanger fluch ).

  • Sangreal Gothcraft

    Finally Got My Hands on Import of this record, was worth the wait to get it in Bloody USA…Fuck this record is just a masterpiece, i thank my Finnish friend for introducing me to this awesome band.