It has been five excruciatingly long years since Moonsorrow’s last full-length, Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa. It was, simply put, one of the finest albums I have ever listened to, and it set the bar for Jumalten Aika (Age of the Gods)—Moonsorrow’s seventh full-length release—about as high as it gets.
At a quick glance, Jumalten Aika clocks in at a staggering sixty-seven minutes through the course of five songs, which has, of course, become a Moonsorrow trademark since the days of Verisäkeet.
A calm but strong atmosphere grows immediately upon entering this auditory journey, created by a slow drum, some throat singing, and a choir, before the real storm hits. It didn’t even take three minutes of listening to anticipate that this would be yet another very strong release.
Moonsorrow is known for a very particular sound—one that is difficult to describe through the usual pagan metal tropes yet unmistakable, crafted through extensive songs filled with a mix of calm passages, aggressive explosions, fresh melodies, and a few masterfully placed choirs. It is music that demands your full attention because it’s, frankly, not always easy to listen to, but if you’re able to let yourself get captured by these occasionally seemingly never-ending creations, you’re in for a solid, imaginative journey. Just like previous Moonsorrow albums, Jumalten Aika delivers all of the above and more.
‘Ruttolehto sis. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa‘ contains perhaps one of the most interesting moments on the album (and it just wouldn’t be Moonsorrow without unintelligible track names, would it?): Fellow Finnish musician Jonne Järvelä appears for a guest performance. He is mainly known as Korpiklaani’s vocalist. For those of you who can’t stand happy boozing folk metal, I just ask that you bear with me for a moment. Järvelä sings a joik here: the traditional singing style found within northern Finland’s Sami culture. It’s a powerful, mesmerizing style of singing, reminding one more of Wardruna or Mongolian throat singers than of the happy tunes usually associated with Korpiklaani.
There is a surprise waiting in the middle as well: ‘Suden Tunti’ has a duration of less than eight minutes. Yes, that’s right! It is one of Moonsorrow’s shortest song since the days of Suden Uni, and it would have fit right in on that record as well. It keeps a fast pace with an aggressive yet majestic approach, while Ville Sorvali’s vocals come across even a bit harsher than on the other songs.
On the whole, the atmosphere on Jumalten Aika is far less depressive or desperate than on the previous Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa. There is more diversity in mood as well as in elements. Some riffs remind of a majestic Falkenbach song, while others are more like old-school Norwegian black metal. All the songs carry the Moonsorrow signature sound, unmistakable and beautiful. Moonsorrow doesn’t simply throw out an album, as is evidenced by the half-decade waiting period for Jumalten Aika; they take their time and release fresh material as soon as they’re satisfied with it. As has been said countless times: You can’t rush perfection.
At a time when many bands rush from album to album or try to cling to former greatness—as is clearly happening quite often in the pagan/folk metal spectrum—it is enormously relieving to know that there are still bands out there who stay steadfastly on their path, producing precious audial gold while they’re at it. This band never fails to deliver; they just keep getting better.
01) Jumalten aika
02) Ruttolehto sis. Päivättömän päivän kansa
03) Suden tunti
05) Ihmisen aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen)