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Moonsorrow

Moonsorrow
November 11, 2013, 08:39:06 PM
"The crusaders of epic heathen metal, Moonsorrow was founded in 1995 with the goal of creating metal art with a good touch of national romanticism and a distinctively pagan approach."

Moonsorrow originally started as a black metal band on their demos; influence from the greats such as Enslaved and Emperor are readily apparent. The band dropped this style starting with Suden Uni, their first full-length album, but black metal elements have reappeared in their last few albums. They have six full-length releases, each of which is a unique creation. All of them, however, retain the band's strong identity. I should highlight this. Each album has its own character entirely, yet somehow fits into the larger context of the band itself. There is a clear progression in sound from the first album to the last.

The compositions are immersive and rewarding and the narrative song structures explore and combine different motifs in ways that continue to fascinate me. The songs are living, breathing entities, developing and flowing organically from exposition to conclusion. All lyrics are in Finnish; they are stunningly poetic, and I have been told that the effect is enhanced in the original, un-translated versions.

Avoid associations between Moonsorrow and bands like Ensiferum, or any other "folk metal" garbage. The former is a seamless integration of a primarily heavy metal framework with Finnish culture and tradition (manifested in the lyrics, the use of rhythms, time signatures, and melodies common in Finnish folk music, and the instrumentation). The latter is formulaic rock music with metal aesthetics and occasional displays of archaic instrumentation that provide little more than novelty. Ensiferum and most of that ilk is unadventurous, insubstantial, and dumb.

I do not recommend this band to those of you who dwell on the dark side, so to speak. Moonsorrow's music is very consonant in comparison to death metal and black metal, so you may find them repulsive haha. There are occasional moments that you may consider cheesy, perhaps due to the presence of keyboards. Their music is sincere and serious though, so don't let this distract you.

Considering the general musical taste of users here, I suggest that you avoid the first two albums, Suden Uni and Voimasta ja Kunniasta, until you are familiar with the other works. While they are remarkable, they sound somewhat stereotypically "folk metal," whereas the subsequent releases pursue a more distinct style. I fear that these first albums will alienate you from the band. My recommendation for first exposure is V: Hävitetty, an ambitious work. Sit down with it, it deserves your attention. Then move to Kivenkantaja and Verisäkeet, and then Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa.

My purpose in creating this thread is to expose a band that I consider fantastic to a group of intelligent individuals who will hopefully appreciate the music and provide discussion about it. Also, if this music is trash and I failed to see this, then you can help me realize that I am wasting my time listening to such a vapid musical excursion.

Moonsorrow is best listened to in album format, but here are some song selections:
Jäästä syntynyt / Varjojen virta (Born of Ice / Stream of Shadows) (from V: Hävitetty)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fywRBI8r6fA
Raunioilla (At the Ruins) (from Kivenkantaja)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtEIb6sX6Xs
Karhunkynsi (Bearclaw) (from Verisäkeet)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSEjORBQOvI
Muinaiset (The Ancient Ones) (From Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3DDwVQn_V4

http://www.moonsorrow.com/main.html
http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Moonsorrow/89

Re: Moonsorrow
November 11, 2013, 09:10:56 PM
This is heavy metal with the surface aesthetics of folk/black metal. Pop structures and entirely derivative.

It makes Drudkh seem profound.

Re: Moonsorrow
November 11, 2013, 11:12:24 PM
Are you claiming a dishonest aesthetic "hijacking" such as is common these days? I disagree, this is indeed heavy metal but the folk music and (infrequent) black metal influences that manifest themselves are more than simple aesthetics.

Certainly some of their songs follow verse / chorus structure, but narrative song structure is just as common. Some songs with clear verses and choruses deviate significantly from pop structure.

Entirely derivative of what?

Re: Moonsorrow
November 11, 2013, 11:46:02 PM
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Are you claiming a dishonest aesthetic "hijacking" such as is common these days?


It's possible, though even if the band is honest it doesn't change the fact that their music is vapid.

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I disagree, this is indeed heavy metal but the folk music and (infrequent) black metal influences that manifest themselves are more than simple aesthetics.

Both of these influences (folk/black) don't contribute anything beyond influences of instrumentation. The spirit is entirely live-music bob-your-head heavy metal. Notice how even during the "black metal" sections the spirit barely changes, it just becomes a tad more restrained. There's no coldness or rawness present that real black metal presents, it's still just heavy metal. Satyricon Syndrome™.

The "folk" element is just retarded drunken melodies that are too stupid even for Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Entirely derivative of what?

This genre, which is derived from stadium metal with surface concessions to other subgenres in order to appeal to more people. It's a product of the times and nothing more. It sounds like just another Drudkh/Falkenbach/Agalloch/Arkona (Rus)/insert irrelevant band here.

Re: Moonsorrow
November 12, 2013, 02:52:36 AM
Dont like them. They drag on for far too long about not much at all. The aesthetic is very pleasant, some of the riffs are nice. It makes good background music. I dont know about hijacking, because I dont think it really aims for that much anyway. Wild is right, stadium metal. This is retooled heavy metal music, which can be nice to listen to, but doesnt really have any legs to it. Maybe you could justify hijacking by saying it is one of those bands that can easily trick people (through no fault of Moonsorrow) into thinking the aspirations of the music are greater than they are.

I have actually had a bit of a change of heart about the influence of heavy metal and overall simplicity in modern bands. I think this could possibly lead to something great again. People are getting tired of needlessly `complex` (just busy/noisy) tech-death and stuff like the new gorguts which is just intolerable. The OSDM fad also seems to be on its way out, with only the genuine bands remaining. Sure, bands right now are still not exactly great, but looking at stuff like Cromlech on the front page; a new wave of heavy metal music on the horizon perhaps?

Re: Moonsorrow
November 12, 2013, 03:56:14 AM
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I disagree, this is indeed heavy metal but the folk music and (infrequent) black metal influences that manifest themselves are more than simple aesthetics.

Both of these influences (folk/black) don't contribute anything beyond influences of instrumentation. The spirit is entirely live-music bob-your-head heavy metal. Notice how even during the "black metal" sections the spirit barely changes, it just becomes a tad more restrained. There's no coldness or rawness present that real black metal presents, it's still just heavy metal. Satyricon Syndrome™.

The "folk" element is just retarded drunken melodies that are too stupid even for Pirates of the Caribbean.
I see your point about the black metal sections, however I find it hard to justify vilifying the band for using that instrumentation for their own creative end. This is me musing as much as it is me asking you, but why can't they use blast beats and tremolo-picked riffs for their own purposes? They never claimed to be a black metal band; they are using those mechanical elements to enhance / further the sound that they wish to achieve. I agree that recontextualization of aesthetics without the original spirit of a musical style is a dangerous act. Where is the line between influence and misappropriation?

I disagree about the folk element, the spirit of the music would be considerably different without it. Furthermore, the melodies are more sophisticated than you claim, see the second half of Tähdetön (time signatures and melodies influenced from Finnish folk music), as well as Kaiku (Russian influence).

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Entirely derivative of what?

This genre, which is derived from stadium metal with surface concessions to other subgenres in order to appeal to more people. It's a product of the times and nothing more.
Moonsorrow is the exception, not the norm. Not only are they not a copycat derivative of the genre, they do not pander to increase their fanbase. If Moonsorrow wanted to appeal to people, they could be ten times more popular than they are. Indigestibly long songs with atypical structures and lyrics entirely in Finnish is not exactly a mass-appeal formula, though I understand that the riff style is catchier and the melodies more consonant than death metal and black metal. They have stated explicitly that the integrity of their project is worth much more to them than any of the material gains that they could easily make by selling out. If anything, their more recent music has less mass appeal than the earlier tunes; it is darker, and the song lengths have become even longer (they can't play many of them live).

Re: Moonsorrow
November 12, 2013, 04:06:07 AM
Dont like them. They drag on for far too long about not much at all. The aesthetic is very pleasant, some of the riffs are nice. It makes good background music. I dont know about hijacking, because I dont think it really aims for that much anyway. Wild is right, stadium metal. This is retooled heavy metal music, which can be nice to listen to, but doesnt really have any legs to it. Maybe you could justify hijacking by saying it is one of those bands that can easily trick people (through no fault of Moonsorrow) into thinking the aspirations of the music are greater than they are.
I think the enjoyment / appreciation for the larger picture diminishes when it's used as background music, and the focus shifts to the riffs, which are of course more immediate. Then again, that goes for any music; pay attention to it for an extended period of time and you see how much it's really worth.

Re: Moonsorrow
November 12, 2013, 07:12:13 AM
The problem with that is; Moonsorrow does not really reward attention compared to the greats. Or even the goods. I mean, I really disagree with you about their skill at composition and narrative. They are not good songwriters at all. What they are decent at is setting one kind of mood and running with it for a song or three, like a lot of newer bands that try for something atmospheric. I am sure this band must have been commented on on the old blog or the DMU frontpage. If not it probably could be, as an example.

In any case, the band is well known here. I have to say I have not been keeping track of them recently though so perhaps they improved.

http://www.deathmetal.org/forum/index.php?topic=3034.10 <-- I was sure there was another thread but I guess I was wrong. Anyway, good to know they are not Nazis!

Re: Moonsorrow
November 12, 2013, 04:49:34 PM
Fair enough sir, I will consider what you and Wild have said the next time that I listen to them. For now, though, I retain my position.

Re: Moonsorrow
November 15, 2013, 01:21:38 PM
Of course I'm familiar with work of Moonsorrow, but I've listened to your excerpts. There are melodies which I "like" on most basic level, as they are pleasant. But what's more importat is that they play, play and play and none of it is able to evoke something in me.