Album: Jumalten Aika
Label: Century Media Records
The new Moonsorrow album is finally here! After a five year wait, we finally have the follow-up to Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa! This album is the seventh from Moonsorrow, and it is definitely worthy of the Moonsorrow names. To me, the previous album Varjoina… did not live up to the amazing one-two punch that was Verisäkeet, arguably Moonsorrow’s best album, and V: Hävitetty, one of my personal favourites. But to my delight, Jumalten Aika has met the bar that was set by those two amazing albums.
Jumalten Aika is a concept album clocking in at over an hour, all but one of the five songs being well over 10 minutes in length. Obviously Moonsorrow has gone into full epic mode to deliver this concept. I won’t get too heavily into what this concept is, since all the lyrics are in Finnish and I’m a little rusty on my Fin-speak, but I do want to talk about it as a way to discuss the music. The name of the album means “Age of the Gods,” and if you follow the simple tracklisting, the album starts with the title track (Age of the Gods) and progresses along until the final track “Ihmisen aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen),” which translates to “The Age of Man (A Bow into Darkness).” I think we can all grasp the heart of the concept, a common motif in metal: the golden days of the past are gone, and we are now in the dark ages of man.
However, I will contradict myself just a little here by pointing out something that the music seems to be telling me. As you listen to the album, the music shifts, telling its own story. The beginning of the album is very epic, with lots of synths and big choirs, something that Moonsorrow really excels at using. As the album progresses though, we are left with less and less of those choirs. The riffs become more vicious, reaching their most aggressive on the third track, whose title translates to “The Hour of the Wolf.” This track is pure fury and features very little in the way of backing synths, expansive moments, or choirs. After this, the album takes on a distinct sorrowful tone, especially on “Mimisbrunn,” but also at the beginning of the final track. But, as the album reaches its end, the epic sounds start to make their back in, and the choirs once again sing from high. To me, the music progresses from a time of glory into a time of darkness, but ends on a more positive note, even though the title of the song seems to imply the opposite. So perhaps there is a bit of sunshine left in the world.
The fact that the album can be listened to in this way, with a fairly clear progression of sounds and feelings throughout the tracks, demonstrates the skill of Moonsorrow in crafting not only amazing songs, but also an amazing album. For the Moonsorrow lover, everything that you could want is on display here. We have the big epic songs and the more aggressive head-bangers. The folk elements seem to me to be more apparent here than they were on the last few albums, although they are woven into the songs rather than used as intros and outros, which perhaps make them less obvious.
Jumalten Aika is a fantastic album that really lives up to what Moonsorrow have always been: one of the best bands out there. Their sound is so distinctly their own, and yet they haven’t lapsed into repeating themselves album after album. If you haven’t already checked this album out yet, you won’t be disappointed. As a final note, if you can get the special edition of this album, you should. It features two covers, “Soulless” by Grave and “Non Serviam” by Rotting Christ, and they are both so great!