Moonsorrow is a Folk Metal
band formed in Helsinki, Finland, in 1995, by cousins Ville and Henri Sorvali, and later expanded into a full band. Taking their name from the Celtic Frost
song "Sorrows of the Moon", the band incorporates influences from disparate genres such as film scores (Danny Elfman
is a cited influence), Progressive Rock
(band members have named King Crimson
as a particular favourite), and, of course, Black Metal
. The band describe their sound as "epic heathen metal" and try to distance themselves from the term "Viking metal", not least of which because, being Finnish, they have no lyrics about Vikings. Their sound is nonetheless not entirely far removed from what one might expect to hear from the Viking metal genre, albeit probably even more epic.
The band is notable for its expansive instrumentation, incorporating far more diverse arrangements than one might expect from a typical metal band. The band's vocals are also quite impressive, often featuring full (and very well done) choirs alongside the traditional Metal Scream
expected of Black Metal
-influenced Folk Metal
. They have also demonstrated a pronounced tendency towards Epic Rocking
, with three songs on recent releases exceeding twenty-five minutes in length (Hävitetty
is comprised exclusively
of Epic Rocking).
The band announced in 2012 that they had signed to Century Media and are working on a new album. They also announced in 2013 a thirteen-LP (now fourteen-LP) box set to be released via Blood Music that is being marketed as the largest metal retrospective ever produced.
Releases to date:
- 1996 - Thorns of Ice (demo, unreleased due to accidental erasure of the better half of the material during mastering)
- 1997 - Metsä (Forest; demo)
- 1997 - Promo (demo; unreleased due to a production failure causing terrible distortion of the sound)
- 1999 - Tämä ikuinen talvi (This Eternal Winter; album-length demo; remastered, with different vocals, in 2001)
- 2001 - Suden uni (A Wolf's Dream)
- 2001 - Voimasta ja kunniasta (Of Strength and Honour)
- 2003 - Kivenkantaja (Stone Bearer)
- 2005 - Verisäkeet (Blood Verses)
- 2007 - Viides luku: Hävitetty (Fifth Chapter: Ravaged)
- 2008 - Tulimrysky (Firestorm; marketed as an EP, although at over sixty-five minutes, it is longer than most albums)
- 2011 - Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa (As Shadows We Walk in the Land of the Dead)
- Ville Sorvali
- Henri Sorvali (see also Finntroll)
- Mitja Harvilahti
- Markus Eurén
- Marko Tarvonen
Tropes exhibited in Moonsorrow's work or applicable to the band include:
- Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Not applicable to the band themselves, but to the media. They've been accused of being Nazis. They're anything but. Their frequent categorisation as a Viking metal band may also count, since they don't have any lyrics about Vikings (although some people would argue that Viking metal is a sound rather than a lyrical stance).
- Doing It for the Art: The band don't seem to mind the limited commercial potential of singing all their material in Finnish, releasing half-hour compositions, and so on.
- Epic Rocking: Always present from the band's first released material ("Hvergelmir/Elivagar (Pakanavedet)" from Metsä is nearly ten minutes long), but Serial Escalation has driven it Up to Eleven in the band's recent material, with Viides luku: Hävitetty featuring two songs and running nearly an hour, and the title track of Tulimyrsky being nearly half an hour. ...Kuolleiden maassa dials it back slightly, but if you disregard the interludes, the shortest song is still almost twelve minutes long.
- Loudness War: Unfortunately most of their material is affected pretty badly. Metsä, being a demo, is immune, and Tämä ikuinen talvi was released before this trend got particularly bothersome either, but most of the rest has audible clipping. Hopefully the vinyl remasters will sound better (the already released vinyl versions of Suden uni and Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa do avert this trope).
- Progressive Rock: According to Word of God (see interview here), the band members made a conscious decision to begin incorporating influences from this genre starting with Kivenkantaja, which is presumably one of the main reasons for the Serial Escalation in song length with their next few releases. The band members also cite their love for bands like King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Genesis, and Rush in this interview.
- Soprano and Gravel: The traditional Metal Scream of black metal combined with some of the most wonderful harmonies you'll ever hear in folk metal.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Kaiku", from Verisäkeet, is entirely acoustic. "Matkan lopussa", from Kivenkantaja, is a lush ballad with female vocals. "Tuulen tytär including Soturin tie", which precedes the aforementioned Kivenkantaja song, also contains no harsh vocals. These three songs are probably good starting places for people who are afraid of Careful With That Axe.