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 fourteen-LP box set to be released via Blood Music, entitled Heritage 1995-2008: The Collected Works
, that has been marketed as the largest metal retrospective ever produced. It was released in October 2014.
Henri Sorvali wrote a massive essay detailing the band's influences for MetalSucks.net here
Releases to date:
- 1996 - Thorns of Ice (demo; half of it is Lost Forever due to accidental erasure during mastering, but the other half was finally released on the Heritage box after being a Missing Episode for over a decade)
- 1997 - Metsä (Forest; demo)
- 1997 - Promo (demo; hitherto unreleased due to a production failure causing terrible distortion of the sound, but apparently Blood Music's engineers were able to fix it, and it was released on the Heritage box)
- 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)
- 2014 - Heritage 1995-2008: The Collected Works (box set)
- 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:
- Black Metal: Not really, but it's a clear influence on some of their material. Their early works could perhaps be considered symphonic black metal.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The band's early material adheres more directly to traditional Black Metal tropes and a lot of the lyrics before Tämä ikuinen talvi are in English.
- 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.
- Folk Metal: One of the leading luminaries of the genre.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The box set.
- 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. The vinyl remasters, while not eliminating all the clipping, nonetheless sound a lot better.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: In general, a solid 8, although like Opeth and Enslaved, their music really goes all over the scale and any given song may have moments that qualify as 1 and moments that qualify as 8. Some of their heavier moments (such as the heaviest parts of "Tulimyrsky" and some of the material on their demos) could probably be considered a 9, and some of their ambient songs are probably a 1.
- 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. Truthfully, though, progressive rock was an influence on them from the very beginning; Tämä ikuinen talvi opens with a three-movement, twelve-plus-minute song, and most of their other songs from around this period aren't that much shorter.
- 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. "Kuun suru" (which translates as "Moon's Sorrow", incidentally) and "Suden uni" are ambient instrumental closers. "Tuulen koti, alltojen koti" is an instrumental with no vocals. These songs are probably good starting places for people who are afraid of Careful With That Axe.
- Titled After the Song: As mentioned above, they are named after the Celtic Frost song "Sorrows of the Moon".
- Uncommon Time: Frequently. "1065: Aika", "Raunioilla", "Karhunkynsi", and "Tuleen ajettu maa" contain good examples.