Released: 2008, Spikefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
The murky heathen warriors from Finland, Moonsorrow, have returned to us with a brand new 5-track opus, titled TULIMYRKSY ("Firestorm" in English in case you were wondering). Yes, Moonsorrow themselves want to consider this as an ´EP´ only even if there´s more than 68 minutes of music on this particular CD. The fans of the band should at least get a worthy package for their money, no doubts.
The title track of this EP, "Tulimyrsky", is, as the drummer of Moonsorrow Marko Tarvonen himself wrote down on my advance CD-R copy, "epic as fukk...!!!". The opening intro could best be described as a ´calm-before-the-storm´ type of intro as the song turns soon into ferocious black metal havoc, describing very well what the words ´fire´ and ´storm´ are all about when talking about these ancient vikings´ brutal and savage forays from European coast to coast from the late 8th to the 11th century. "Tulimyrsky" basically introduces every bit of Moonsorrow´s whole career, how they have evolved musically from their demo days all the way to the very pompous sounding viking/folk metal act that they possess nowadays. To me, the song sounds more like a soundtrack to some epic movie about crusaders or vikings, featuring also Tomi Koivusaari (Amorphis) as a guest vocalist. You cannot go wrong with Tomi´s unique death grunts either, can you? All in all, I have to say every time when Moonsorrow puts a new release out, they always seem to have some extra aces hiding behind their warrior´s shield. And I honestly thought - with my blue eyes shining bright, the band´s latest full-length album, titled V - HÄVITETTY, was already sort of the final peak of all epicness, atmosphere and pomposity from them. Duh, I guess it´s only wiser to expect the unexpected from them - and stick with it every time as far as their new material comes in question. A word of fair warning is probably in order: "Tulimyrksy" ain´t that easy a song at all either due to its length, plus several musical layers hiding in the song. As I hinted earlier, one can find all kinds of elements from raw black metal to folk music to even progressive rock from it - and all these elements seem to melt together into one great musical experience when giving the song some time to get fully absorbed into your mind.
It´s also rather surprising to see Moonsorrow covering Metallica. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" has now been covered by them, and it doesn´t sound as bad as you may expect it to sound in the hands of them. I gotta admit, I have never heard of this folk-ish version done of any Metallica songs before - and Moonsorrow can keep all their dignity intact after this brave attempt to make a cover version of this classic Metallica song. Moonsorrow´s version from "For Whom the Bell Tolls" sounds kinda weird and teeny-weeny cheesy even, but still does justice to the original version with some of those folk-ish parts they have absorbed in for this song. I never expected they would ever cover Metallica either, but never say never.
"Taistelu Pohjolasta", a song which is to be found from the band´s TÄMÄ IKUINEN TALVI demo (1999), has got an updated treatment for this EP, and it sounds like a melodic, keyboard-driven black metal song, done in the true Swedish style. It´s fast, wicked, straightforward and doesn´t sound much like Moonsorrow of 2008 at all, but that´s hardly surprising. They have cut out more than 4 minutes from the original version of the song, and therefore the song tends to sound much tighter because of that. This song rips your face off by a bloody viking sword for sure...guaranteed.
"Hvergelmir" (taken from the METSÄ demo, 1997) brings in another flash from the band´s past days, clearly proving that Moonsorrow´s original sound was deeply rooted in atmospheric black metal, which then later evolved toward that folk-ish, viking metal style they are known for these days.
The EP ends with a Merciless cover song, "Back to North" (to be found from the UNBOUND album, 1994), which also does fair justice to the original Merciless song, still having Moonsorrow´s own fingerprint in it. In length, Moonsorrow have added almost 5 more minutes into the original version, but done it with style without raping the song to unrecognized pieces.
Last but not least, Kris Verwimp (known for his great-looking artwork for Marduk, Vital Remains, Angel Corpse, etc.) has made a really eye-catching cover artwork for TULIMYRSKY, too. Don´t let the front cover fool you.