Review by Drew on August 1, 2016.
Those who are regular listeners of black or pagan metal are no stranger to the band Moonsorrow who hail from Finland. They have been around since 1995 and are still going strong. Their latest release in 2016, Jumalten Aika, is a wonderfully crafted album and definitely hits all of your senses while taking the listener for a ride. Moonsorrow fans have been chomping at the bit for this new release and they definitely delivered. For those who are not familiar with Moonsorrow, here’s the lineup: Ville Sorvali (Bass & Lead Vocals), Henri Sorvali (Guitars, Keyboards, and Vocals), Mitja Harvilahti (Guitars, and Vocals), Markus Eurén (Keyboards), Marko Tarvonen (Drums and Vocals), and Janne Perttilä (Guitars and Vocals).
The normal release of Jumalten Aika, which translates to, “The Age of Gods,” only has five tracks; however, it is well worth the money as each track, except for one, has a running time of twelve minutes or longer. The Limited Edition, which only costs a couple dollars more, even comes with a couple of exclusive bonus tracks on a second CD featuring covers of Grave's "Soulless' and Rotting Christ’s 'Non Serviam' as well as a bonus patch. This review is for the Limited Edition, which clocks in at a whopping 75 minutes and 33 seconds in only 7 songs altogether.
Aside from the cover songs and the exception of one track, each track on the limited edition album is over 12 minutes long with the longest one clocking in at exactly 16 minutes. Although there are some black metal elements within this album, it definitely has separated itself and is more pagan metal than anything with the lyrics and imagery. Jumalten Aika contains interpretations and observations of myths and folklore, and the English translations within the provided booklet gives listeners a chance to really delve deep into the lyrics and what stories Moonsorrow is telling. This album is not meant as an album of stories of happy times past; it is more of a representation of the dark, grim, and sometimes evil ancient times.
Here are the English translations of the above song titles:
1. The Age of Gods
2. Plague Grove incl. People of the Dayless Day
3. Wolf’s Hour
4. Mimir’s Well
5. The Age of Man (A Bow into Darkness)
The album as a whole is a great album and will be one that you will not want to take out of your CD player for a long time. Each and every song is as strong as the next, which makes the album that much more enjoyable. The complexity of the songs with the transitions and elements is pleasurable to any metal fan’s ears as it shows this band is not about hitting you with a ton of bricks, but more about taking you on the journey they are trying to convey within each song, aggressive or melodic at just the right times.
Out of all the songs on this album, aside from the cover songs, my favorite one would have to be, 'Mimisbrunn,' or 'Mimir’s Well.' In Norse Mythology, Mimisbrunnr is a well associated with the being Mimir, located beneath the world tree Yggdrasil, an ash tree that is considered holy. This song tells a tale of the three worlds associated with three roots of the tree and the immense size of the tree as well as the branches reach toward the heavens. In the end, the sun has turned the tree to flames. There is quite a bit of symbolism woven within this song, which is probably why I am drawn to it, plus, it is musically spot on introducing different elements at the right times within the song.
The cover art for the limited edition of, Jumalten Aika adorns the band’s logo. Within the inner sleeve you can find lyrics and pictures of each of the band members buried in soil. The limited edition release comes in a cardboard case with two CDs and a bonus patch as well. I am usually not a fan of cardboard cases because they tend to scratch the CDs; however, this case is pretty solid despite being cardboard because it contains two separate CD trays to safely a securely hold each CD.
Overall, Moonsorrow did a very good job with their new release, Jumalten Aika, and made the wait more than worth it for their fans. This album is extremely complex, yet enjoyable at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and still continue to do so as I still have not taken it out of my CD player yet. To give this album anything less than a perfect rating would be doing it a disservice. If you do not have this album and you are a black metal/pagan metal fan, this is a must have in your collection.
Rating: 10 out of 10