Moonsorrow - Kivenkantaja
Spinefarm Records
Epic Heathen Metal
6 songs (53:45)
Release year: 2003
Moonsorrow, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Jay
Album of the month

With their new contract just announced and the re-issue of their first album on the way, Moonsorrow seems to be sitting pretty for the moment. What better time to take a closer look at their most recent album, Kivenkantaja. This album does bring them full circle in terms of production, songwriting and musicianship. It also sees them branch out into some new directions that had gone previously unexplored in their music.

Much has been made on their decision to sing in the Finnish language. Language is a sticky subject. It brings out feelings of nationalism and culture very strongly in some people. There are those who would like the Finnish language to be deemphasized in the country and rightfully so, there is opposition. After the discussions prompted here last week, I decided to do some research. Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric family of languages so it’s related to Estonian and Hungarian. There is little to no association with the Indo-European language family that most western European languages are derived from (e.g. Romance and Germanic). It doesn’t share their grammatical system either. Finnish is a complex language consisting of 15 tenses and it lacks articles. It heavily favors adding suffixes to words to alter their meaning. For example, kivi means stone. The –en suffix modifies the word into the genitive case. Kantaa is a verb meaning to bear and the suffix –ja adds the meaning of “someone who does something.” Putting it all together, Kivenkantaja means Stonebearer. As you can see, Finnish grammatical rules allow for incredibly long words to be formed. (If any of the information is incorrect, feel free to correct me. This is what I concluded from the research I did.)

After this brief exegesis on Finnish, let’s return to the metal, shall we? The first thing I noticed on this album is pronounced Bal-Sagoth influence. “Jumalten Kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen Perintö” is a prime exemplar. The keyboards are very similar to those used on Battle Magic. The tempo is quite slowed down and made much more epic. The production is also leaps and bounds better than Bal-Sagoth. The double bass hits are clear as a bell as are the cymbal crashes. In fact, this album has their best drum sound to date. The guitar work on the intro to “Kivenkantaja” is simply terrific. The acoustic feel gives you the impression that Moonsorrow sat around a bonfire singing this hymnal praise to the gods. The use of the accordion on this song is perfect. The accordion’s role is much diminished on this album compared to Suden Uni. Instead, there are many more violin parts, which fill the void. The flute is featured quite prominently on several songs as well. One aspect of this music that I appreciate is the attention to the folk instruments that have been basically forgotten in modern music. Not to say that every song should have accordion solos but when appropriate and properly executed, it can be an incredible lift to the right song.

It is also clear from listening to this album that much more time was put into the composition. The songs flow in a much more unified manner. Each part is crafted to relate to the other parts in a seamless manner. The epic choirs mesh with the instrumentation quite well. The best example of this is on “Raunioilla” where choral parts fuse into the main portion of the song accenting the guitar work and the blackened screams of Viking anguish. This is by far Moonsorrow’s best album and I eagerly await any new release from the Finnish masters of folk metal.

Killing Songs :
Kivenkantaja, Jumalten Kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen Perintö, Raunioilla
Jay quoted 93 / 100
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Moonsorrow that we have reviewed:
Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Moonsorrow - Tulimyrsky reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Moonsorrow - V: Havitetty reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
Moonsorrow - Verisäkeet reviewed by Jay and quoted 87 / 100
Moonsorrow - Suden Uni reviewed by Jay and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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