Album Review-Moonsorrow-Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa

What’s left of the dim moonlight futilely dances around the blackened night sky attempting  to reflect off the mist of precipitation but it is sent back to darkness by the ash that is mixed with.  A single, hair thin beam of light somehow pursues through the gauntlet of grey ash and darkness and meets its end upon meeting what was once a great tree of spruce.  When the determined ray of light lands on the anemic and ravaged tree his once majestic branch gives way and crumbles to the ground covering the men resting below it in a shower of dust and charcoal.  Wiping the darkness from his brow one of the men looks down at his feet and says to his companion, “Well, at least we’re lucky enough to have found this river so we can clean some of this soot off.  Or we could just leave it, the dark can camouflage us from some of the more desperate ones out there.  What ya think buddy?”

The man turns to the other, who is sitting silently close the river and says to him, “Look at that river, as a child I used to swim and play in here.  Now it’s filled with nothing but the poison of the dead and the rust of the technology which ruined us, where did we go wrong?”

He steps closer to the other man and looks at him and look at him endearingly.  “Well, we’re still alive somehow and have each other to keep ourselves from loosing our minds and our heads, eh.  So, what do you think, should we risk washing up in this here river, or leave the soot?”

His friend makes no response, “Buddy, you listening?”  The man places his hand on his friends shoulder and gives him a little shake.  Under the light weight of the mans hand the silent, sitting man drops to the ground like a sack of potatoes landing on his back, his empty eyes glaring back at his friend.  The man drops to his knees pulling the other man into his arms.  He lifts his head back and releases all his fear, sorrow, and rage into a chilling, desperate howl.  The roaming predators were sure to hear him and will soon arrive.

Life on a ravaged earth is a horrible thing to think about.  Nothing good can come of it and as humans we should be doing what we can do to prevent it.  Some people plant trees, some aid others in war torn countries, others speak out against war, and some tell warnings of what may come.  We all have our on personal ways of doing what we can for our home planet, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough.  But the main point is that you should be doing all that is in your power to protect it.  Finnish metal band Moonsorrow uses the influence of song and music to give humanity a grim warning of what may happen if we destroy our home with their latest album “Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa”(“As Shadows We Wander In The Land Of The Dead”), which tells the story of a world after an apocalypse.

I don’t even know how to start describing this masterpiece.  If I had to sum “Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa” up in just a few words I’d say “epic”, “intense”, “emotional”.  But those are words that I can use to describe any number of great albums, so I’ll go into detail on why those would be the words I would choose to describe this album.

Let’s start with “intense”.  The moment you press play the album starts off with the song “Tähdetön”(Starless).  The music presents a droning barrage of guitar and bass assault your aural senses and are beaten in with steady pounding of the drums.  This mixed with the raspy vocals create an atmosphere of ravaged world of grey, no light, no dark, just one thousand shades of grey.  You feel the desolation of the ruined world and as the music picks up pace you feel the chase of the unknown pursuing you.  This intensity and urgency of the music doesn’t let up for one second the entire album and by the time the final drum beats on “Kuolleiden maa”(“The Land of the Dead”) you are left drained and speechless.

“Emotional”.  Let alone the emotional impacts that the intensity of this album has, Moonsorrow brings in another emotional aspect into the album.  Since this is a concept album and has what one may call a story, there needs to be a form of narrative.  The way Moonsorrow creates a narrative is one, through the music, and second, through interludes between each song.  The interludes are sounds of someone walk through what might be snow or scorched earth with different faint sounds heard in the background.  And in one we hear the sound of a babbling river and the person running to it and finally releasing a blood curdling scream.  That scream made the hair on my arms stand up.  “Is this person dying, is the river a mirage, does he find something horrible at the river?”  I may never know, but it’s the fact that there is human character to relate to and the uncertainty of his fate that makes the scream so emotional.  That plus the pure emotion that each member of the band puts into his playing is superbly captured on the album.

And finally, “Epic”.  The first rule of something being defined as epic is that it must be very big.  Each track(excluding interludes) ranges from 12 to 16 minutes long, so there are definitely no radio friendly short songs on this album.  And each song has multiple parts to them floating between melodious sections, brutal passages, tempo changes, and time changes while all keeping a musical theme throughout each song and a common musical theme throughout the entire album giving “Varjoina….” a larger than life scope.  The song “Huuto”(“The Scream”) is pretty much the definition of epic in of itself.

So, in closing, “Varjoina….” is a groundbreaking album and unlike anything I’ve heard before.  This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year and expectations were extremely high, and boy, Moonsorrow did not let me down.  On each album they are constantly pushing their sound forward, exploring new musical territories, and completely destroying boundaries.  I’m going onto my 9th playback as I write this closing and each time I hear it I am constantly discovering things I haven’t noticed before, meaning that this album still has much more growing time and can only get better.  I highly recommend purchasing this album(especially on cd, due to the fact the beautifully written lyrics are translated and there is text for each of the interludes which you don’t hear on the album along with great photography work).  And remember, this is the only Earth we got, take care of it!!! Peace, Love, and Metal.

Here’s the song “Huuto”, it’s been edited down a couple minutes to fit the youtube video length, so if you want to hear it in full, pick up the album.


About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on April 8, 2011, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love this album an incredible amount, it was in my Top 10 of last year. However, I have to disagree with the interpretation you gave of the album’s concept. It’s actually about a group of lost wanderers who are slowly picked off from disease, killing and starvation, until the final track when the narrator himself dies by the riverbank. I don’t think the band’s intention was a commentary on socio-ecological policy.

    For the rest of it, great review trying to encompass such a vast album. And cool intro 😉

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