Moonsorrow – Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa (Spinefarm Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

If there’s a bigger travesty for the calendar year than the lack of a domestic release for Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa, then please tell us. Blistering had to use alternative means to track this one down (read: this scribe’s stepbrother), but still, why is Moonsorrow without a proper distributiondeal for North America? Like, what is so hard about it? They can’t print up enough digital downloads? Sheesh.

The long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s monstrous and unbeatable V: Hävitetty,Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa (which translates into “As shadows we walk in the land of the dead”) sees the epic Finnish metallers settle back into their battle-tested, very folksy sound as if the four-year layoff didn’t hurt matters. Granted, we’re not counting the Tulimyrsky EP, but the point is evident that Moonsorrow are arguably the preeminent band of this ilk.

Emerged in the band’s riff-heavy sound are a pack of forlorn melodies, of which make their appearance on the excellent “Muinaiset,” which starts off a triumphant fashion not unlike various songs from Thryfing’s Hels Vite, only with a stronger emphasis on being epic, if that’s at all possible. The songs here are long and longer, with the band often letting the riffs play their parts out (see the surging and keyboard-laded “Huuto”), as well as heeding the call of momentous melodies that are perfectly-placed (“Kuolleiden Maa”).

Perhaps the most uncompromising of the epic metal bands, Moonsorrow’s ability to stay in line with their non-hokey and non-pretentious ethos is probably why Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa sits so well. Definitely not intended for those with limited attention spans, Varjoina strikes early and often, allowing everyone to digest the superior compositional ability of Moonsorrow without even realizing the album is over an hour long. They don’t make bands like Moonsorrow anymore.

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