Album Review Moonsorrow – ‘Jumalten Aika’
A lot of controversy has circled around Moonsorrow throughout their career. Over more than two decades the band’s music has been categorized with different labels culminating in the completely ridiculous allegations of being racist. Moonsorrow always tried to distance themselves from the happier, danceable version of folk metal or the oh-so-popular Viking metal calling their sinister version of extreme metal pagan metal or epic heathen metal. Moonsorrow’s latest record ‘Jumalten Aika’ follows this path consistently.
Moonsorrow’s fans had to wait for five years for a new album. The seventh full-length album ‘Jumalten Aika’ (which means ‘The Age Of Gods’) will certainly not disappoint. Moonsorrow stay true to their trademark sound. Based on their strong black metal roots the Finns lash out with the five tracks of ‘Jumalten Aika’ and lead the listener into a dark, cold and sinister world of despair, Northern mythology and thundering witchcraft. As always the lyrics are in Finnish. However, the band delivers English translations with the CD which certainly helps to delve deeper into the conceptual world of Moonsorrow.
Traditionally Moonsorrow’s music has been based on a blend of black metal and folk elements including the use of keyboards and choirs. Different to most other bands those two elements stood more besides each other rather than being mixed into the happy sounds that you can hear during any medieval festival. On ‘Jumalten Aika’ Moonsorrow basically follow the same principle yet develop the structures of the songs into a more intertwined blend of those elements. However, they do this without falling into the trap of the happy, medieval crowd. ‘Jumalten Aika’ is first and foremost a black metal album with a style somewhere between Norwegian black metal like Enslaved and Ulver with a dose of Bathory every now and then.
‘Jumalten Aika’ clocks in at 67 minutes that are spread over only five songs. Other than the shortest track – the slowly grinding, grim ‘Suden Tunti’ – all tracks are longer than 12 minutes. This allows the band to develop the menacing and ominous atmosphere they are known for. It also creates the sense of a more complete aural experience throughout the entire album. Rather than five different songs the listener is confronted with an overarching, conceptual music. The result is that it is hard to pick a highlight of the album and that might be the only critic I have. The music meanders through the 67 minutes without the recognisable moments of a truly great and timeless record. Nevertheless, ‘Jumalten Aika’ is a very strong album. It is certainly again a pleasure to listen to a pagan metal album that doesn’t just hop from cliché to cliché but creates its own dark and mystic universe.
With ‘Jumalten Aika’ Moonsorrow follow their path consequentially. They have developed their very own blend of music and do not deviate from their origins. That makes ‘Jumalten Aika’ another classic Moonsorrow album. Topped off with an impeccable sound Moonsorrow’s seventh record should have quite some staying power.
8.5 of 10