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Album Reviews : Moonsorrow – Jumalten Aika

By on March 27, 2016

moonsorrwjumaltencdI’ve always had a lot of respect for Moonsorrow. Something that I’ve always appreciated about their brand of pagan metal is the way they are able to invoke imagery from times gone past and create the most epic of soundscapes without overdoing the Viking cliché . Their melodies and arrangements speak for themselves and the vocals have an almost tribal authenticity about them. When it comes to Moonsorrow you know you’re not going to get any of the ‘happy dance’ jigs or drinking tunes that other bands in the viking/folk/pagan metal genre can often embrace.

Jumalten Aika (Translates to ‘The Age Of Gods’ in English) is the Finnish band’s latest offering and its everything that you could ever want from this style of metal album. I have a version without the bonus tracks (so haven’t reviewed the Grave and Rotting Christ covers) so we’re talking about five original tracks only. Despite the low track count the album clocks in comfortably over an hour so make no mistake, the songs on Jumalten Aika are epic in every sense of the word.

The disk gets underway with the title track “Jumalten Aika” [The Age Of Gods]. After a brooding and atmospheric introduction which utilises traditional folk instruments and chanting style clean vocals the song gets down to business. The chord progressions throughout are typically atmospheric, creating an epic backdrop for the vocals. This is trade mark Moonsorrow from the get go. The track goes through plenty of twists and turns; the vocals switch between growls and chanted cleans, and the mood of the accompanying music switches regularly from dark and atmospheric to more upbeat and uplifting. For all of the different elements and sections in the song it is incredibly cohesive for a 12:00 minute plus track.

“Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa” [Plague Grove incl. People of the Dayless Day] starts with chanted vocals before the main riffs kicks in – head banging stuff. Like its predecessor the song is full of twists and turns and light and dark moments. I get a Gallery era Dark Tranquillity vibe at times and flavours of early Amorphis at others, but there’s no denying that this is certainly Moonsorrow doing what they do best. The section that kicks in at the 08:30 minute mark is perhaps the most spine tingling moment that I’ve ever heard on a pagan metal album and a definite highlight. It’s a great track and certainly a smooth listen for a song that spans over 15 minutes.

“Suden Tunti” [Wolf’s Hour] is the shortest track on the album, clocking in just over 7 mins. It starts with an evil sounding riff which I really like! The vibe of the entire track is a lot darker than the first two tracks, and in general it’s far less ‘up tempo’ than the proceeding tracks. For all of it difference it’s a quality track and a refreshing change of pace at this stage of the album.

“Mimisbrunn” [Mímir’s Well] gets underway with a nice acoustic guitar line which builds and builds. Again I am reminded of The Gallery era Dark Tranquillity (which is strange because I haven’t listened to that album for years), but I can’t deny the similarities to the track “Lethe”. But “Mimisbrunn” is no more than reminiscent of that track and has plenty of out and out individuality. A couple of great blast beat laden sections are particularly notable, and stand out amoungst the more melodic, mid tempo sections. It’s another 15 minute epic, and another great track.

“Ihmisen Aika (Kumarrus Pimeyteen)” [The Age of Man (A Bow into Darkness)] is the final track on the album and is probably my favourite track. This is Moonsorrow at their best – great riffs and melodies. The outro is especially uplifting and memorable. The album concludes with some blood curdling vocals which fade into the eerie sound of a fire burning. A slightly unsettlijg way to end the album, and certainly adds to the dark vibe that the album carries.

Moonsorrow have delivered in a big way and Jumalten Aika with the album having all of the the elements that make this style of metal enjoyable to listen to for me. Die hard Moonsorrow fans will love this album and general fans of the genre should get their hands on a copy ASAP. Moreover, I’d implore anyone who thinks that they don’t like this style of metal to at least give this album a listen. This is not cliché, this is not a gimmick – this is musically as close as you will get to capturing the essence of a time where the Finns worshiped the god of thunder and sky. I don’t speak Finnish so I can’t comprehend the lyrical content without searching out a translation, but even without a full appreciation for the lyrics their music tells a story and creates atmosphere. Jumalten Aika is easily one of the best releases I’ve heard so far this year.

About

Chris is a long time metal enthusiast and advocate for Australian heavy music scene. Chris grew up in Perth, Western Australia and is a past member of modern melodeath act Let's Kill Uncle. Currently residing in London, UK.