1st April 2016 – Nuclear Blast
01. Jumalten aika
02. Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän päivän kansa
03. Suden tunti
05. Ihmisen aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen)
Moonsorrow. The name alone evokes many feelings: mystique, gravitas, and…well, sorrow. The band behind the name is all of those and so much more. The Finns have been active in the folk and black metal scene since 1995, with a number of albums that are considered masterworks to their name. Their last, Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa, came in 2011 and while it was very well received, it was considered a bit of a step down from their previous heights, including 2003’s Kivenkantaja and the incredible Verisakeet in 2005. Five years later sees the release of their seventh studio full length Jumalten Aika. Are Moonsorrow a waning force?
No. Not even close. In fact, Jumalten Aika takes everything that ruled about Moonsorrow, and amplifies it all. It is quite possibly one of the best albums they have ever made. The gravitas that this band oozes all over this album has never been stronger.
Moonsorrow have included elements of Viking metal-era Bathory for a long time, most noticeably on Kivenkantaja, but over the ages they have molded that into their own form. Jumalten Aika is nothing less than Moonsorrow’s signature sound at its absolute best, stripping away the proggier, atmospheric leanings that marked their last album, and shoving pure, grandiose folk metal into the ears of the listener. Some black metal-influenced aggression is pushed in tracks like “Suden Tunti” and “Ihmisen Aika (Kumarrus Pimeyteen)” while maintaining the Hammerheart-style grace and power.
Each track on Jumalten Aika feels like it has the entire space of a snowy mountain valley in which to breathe and let each element shine – the mix is just fantastic. It’s a nice contrast to some of the other more compressed folk metal that has plagued the genre recently.
It’s difficult to pick out individual songs to praise – both because of the flowing nature of the album and the overall excellence of each track – but the highlight of the album is probably “Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän päivän kansa“, a fifteen minute piece that traverses both the massive and pummeling folk metal as well as almost jaunty acoustic folk sections. A glorious choral intro, interwoven with melodies that set the listener up for the massive dose of incredible ahead.
The music itself isn’t super technical, but the talent these men have is still quite apparent. Marko Tarvonen’s drumming is a special highlight, suiting the music at every juncture, whether sparse and light, or heavy, pounding, and tribal.
Moonsorrow’s five year break has clearly been used productively. Jumalten Aika stands tall as one of the Finns’ best albums – if not their absolute best. The utter majesty of their music is on full display, and their atmospheric composition has never been better. It’s actually kind of difficult to find any flaws; it’s engaging, atmospheric, and breathtakingly varied, and while the length of songs might put off inexperienced listeners, fans and casual listeners alike should find immense enjoyment in this release.