Review by Daniel for Moonsorrow - V: Hävitetty (2007) Review by Daniel for Moonsorrow - V: Hävitetty (2007)

Daniel Daniel / January 01, 2019 / 0

I'd suggest that 2007's "V: Hävitetty" album from Finnish folk metallers Moonsorrow is one of the most definitive releases for The North in that it really encapsulates elements of all three major genres housed by the clan. It never feels like black metal however it certainly borrows plenty of tools from its more evil brethren. To my ears it's just as much of a Viking metal record as it is a folk metal one though as it's not only got plenty of theatrical hints at longboats & the like but it's also got that rolling, epic feel you expect from Viking metal. You'll also find some progressive flourishes in the synthesizer use at times although anyone suggesting that this is a progressive release is overstating things.

I first encountered Moonsorrow very quickly after my return to metal in 2009. I'd noticed that their 2005 album "Verisäkeet" was very highly regarded so I thought I'd better check it out. Unfortunately I found myself struggling with it for all of the reasons that I struggle with folk metal in general. The folk melodies just don't appeal to me & I find that this takes most of the intensity out of the music for me. But after experimenting a bit more with the rest of Moonsorrow's back catalogue I'd find that they'd undergone a gradual transformation that would see me identifying more & more to grab onto with each subsequent release. I utterly despise their first couple of albums "Suden uni" & "Voimasta ja kunniasta" but 2003's "Kivenkantaja" & 2005's "Verisäkeet" both saw them edging progressively a touch closer to my affection without ever really threatening to become something I'd class as being genuinely enjoyable. Looking back now I can easily see that Moonsorrow's ability to provide me with any sort of value is generally dependent on what the ratio of folk-to-Viking is like. They seem to have gradually added more of the Viking-period Bathory influences in over time whilst toning back the folk metal cheese & that's definitely a good thing for me. And this bring us to their fifth album "V: Hävitetty" which finally sees Moonsorrow breaching my tough exterior & offering me some sort of appeal.

"V: Hävitetty" is a little bit of a frustrating album for me though. It starts off in the most awe-inspiring fashion with the first third of the immense 30 minute opener "Jäästä syntynyt / Varjojen virta" being nothing short of mind-blowing & leading me to question whether I'm in for a significantly more noteworthy experience. The next ten minute section sees the quality dropping back a bit but maintaining a solid level before the last third unfortunately signals the arrival of some of those cheesier folk metal extravagances that I find so grating. Overall it makes for an enjoyable listen but I can't help but feel that it was a missed opportunity. The other huge track "Tuleen ajettu maa" sees things dipping a little further with several sections that are just so consciously trying to sound epic & the heavier sections being almost cancelled out by the most unintimidating synthesizers & folk instrumentation. It's beautifully produced, performed & executed of course which is always the case with this band but it just sits so far outside of my comfort zone that I find myself squirming all the time even if I can appreciate the clear artistic value. So my main concern with "V: Hävitetty" is that I find it progressively less appealing across the span of its run time & it leaves me feeling a touch disappointed at the end even though I never feel my effort was wasted. Thankfully "Jäästä syntynyt / Varjojen virta" is strong enough to make this the first Moonsorrow album to offer me a reasonable level of appeal as an overall package.

For fans of Falkenbach, Finsterforst & Månegarm.

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