Moonsorrow – Jumalten aika (Century Media)Friday, 25th March 2016
They don’t pump out albums at the frequency of Eluveitie or Korpiklaani, nor are they as ubiquitous on these shores as Ensiferum and Tyr, but Moonsorrow remain the crown jewel of the epic/folk metal scene. Most roads begin and end with the Finns via their mammoth, flawless V: Hävitetty effort from 2007, although one could certainly vouch for an even earlier work like Kivenkantaja. Point being, of the “epic” heard, there’s none more epic than Moonsorrow, something represented once again on Jumalten aika, their first album since 2011’s Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa.
In keeping with the “more is more” thread, the band has turned in only five songs here, which of course, is more than double they did for V: Hävitetty. Whereas their contemporaries are more suited for plopping their mead down and running, Moonsorrow, are not. Rather, their jaunts are usually a few mini jaunts rolled into one, usually with an early barrage (which happens on the opening title track), or a gallant finish (“Mimisbrunn”). The band’s unnatural penchant for making folk melodies appear larger than life is in full force here, especially on “Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän päivän kansa,” the album’s whirling number. (Lots of keyboard layers, sideways riffing, too.)
As per Moonsorrow’s previous output, the chase that nets the catch is rewarding. There’s no real way to get locked into these songs other than to pay attention, wait for the hammer (or drawbridge) to drop, then ride along when the choral voices come in, or the drums crash to a crescendo, or another primeval guitar motif makes its way through. So alas, there’s sufficient reason why Moonsorrow aren’t as productive as their competitors: metal this huge, epic, big, and booming deserves all of the time in the world.