Sunday, November 14, 2010

A song to end the weekend with...: Moonsorrow - Sankarihauta

Moonsorrow, one of my favourite bands (which my wife likes as well), have have released epic "viking" metal songs. I love all their releases, with my top favourite being Voimasta Ja Kuniasta (Of Strength and Honour), where they stunning songs, with Sankarihauta (Warrior's Grave; the video below) and Sankaritarina (Warrior's Tale) (note - I did not copy-paste any of the Finnish names thus far; I'm learning Finnish thanks to this band). 

Honestly, just disregard the video and listen to the song itself...

Here's the bio I wrote for them at Prog Archives:

Moonsorrow was founded in 1995 in Helsinki Finland by the Sorvali cousins, Henri (guitar and keyboards; he is also a member of Finntroll) and Ville (vocals and bass). They proceeded to record four demos until 1998; two of them disappeared and the two others are "Metsä" from 1997 and "Tämä ikuinen talvi" from 1998. The music on these was more of black metal compared with what was to be made by the band on their albums. This latter demo made it possible for them to gain a recording contract with Plasmatica Records. At this point Marko Tarvonen joined the band to take hold of the drumming and percussions position. This lineup recorded in 2000 their first full length Suden uni (A Wolf's Dream). Their demo Tämä ikuinen talvi was also re-released alongside the album in 2001. This first album got a re-issue in 2003 with a bonus track, alternate cover art and a DVD. In 2000 two musicians were invited as session members and were then invited to join the band: Mitja Harvilahti (guitars) and Markus Eurén (keyboards). This lineup proceeded to perform live and also to record and release in 2001 the album Voimasta ja kunniasta (Of Strength and Honour) through a new label, Spikefarm Records.

It was the followup to that album, Kivenkantaja (Stonebearer) released in 2003, that got them the wide attention in Finland and beyond; it reached the 16th place on Finnish album charts. A short break followed this period with their first abroad show in 2004 and then in 2005 the release of Verisäkeet (Blood Verses). This album reached the 18th position in the Finnish charts. In 2006 the band did a European tour alongside Primordial from Ireland. In 2007 came Viides luku - Hävitetty (Chapter five - Ravaged) which shows another progression in their style, having on it only two songs, each one half an hour long. This was followed by touring in Finland and around the world.

Moonsorrow's origins are in Black Metal but have progressed from it, preserving its roots but expanding on it, giving it an epic feel in the majestic and grandiose sound of it, and the length of the songs and also a folk characteristic Finnish paganism. It was termed Viking Metal (along bands like Thyrfing, Einherjer, Ensiferum, Turisas, Falkenbach and others) which are black metal in basis, but add much melodiness to their sound, an epic feel and anthemic choruses and a specific lyrical content. They have progressed with each release, to form anthemic songs, usually long. With each release there were additional progressive elements added to their music, those being in the complexities of the songs, the structures of compositions, the instrumentation, sound and approach.

With Kivenkantaja came the breakthrough to bigger crowds (this album contains epic songs that will appeal to prog metal fans) and with Verisäkeet came another shift that showed that the band is getting more complex in their approach to writing their songs. This approach was fully applied in Viides luku - Hävitetty which as was mentioned, is made up of two half hour songs, each based on several melodic ideas developed very well.

Moonsorrow have started with black metal (in their demos and a bit in Suden Uni), progressed to epic viking metal (starting with Suden Uni and then in the following releases until Kivenkantaja) to their progerssive sound (Verisakeet, Havitetty).

Moonsorrow has shown and keeps on proving that progressive metal lies not only with the commonly known bands of prog-metal, but that progressive metal can come from less expected bands from genres not usually associated with it. They have shown throughout their releases the aspiration to create something complex and appealing at the same time, and have shown progression with each release.

Moonsorrow is a highly recommended bands for fans of extreme metal as well as music listeners who want to have a taste of a different form of progressive metal.

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