Sat. Nov 28th, 2020

22.2.2020 Moonsorrow @ The Circus, Helsinki

Fifteen years ago, the Finnish folk metal band MOONSORROW released one of their most legendary albums “Verisäkeet.” In honor of this release, the band decided to play a couple of shows in Finland dedicated to the full-length album, playing through the entire record. One of their stops was on 22 February 2020 at The Circus in Helsinki, and we just knew we had to be part of it. For more photos, check out our gallery here.

Due to political differences, we decided to skip the opening act but arrived in time for MOONSORROW. After we found a good spot on the floor, there was a folky intro and then we were suddenly barraged by a wall of sturdy, rough metal. The band was playing “Verisäkeet” in its entirety, though I’m not familiar with the album so that meant very little to me on a personal level. The combination of melodic folk and rough and fierce sounds works really well, but the sheer heaviness was overpowering the melodic elements. As someone who doesn’t usually listen to music quite this harsh, it took a while for my ears to adjust. 

This type of music seemed to bring fans of different genres together, as it is harsh but not as harsh as pure black metal, but also has more melodies and folk sounds, to appeal to those fans of the lesser-intense genres. The second song, “Haaska,” started with really intense black metal blast beats, with drilling guitar sounds, soaring melodies, and a feeling of grandeur. The music generally feels like the band is painting visions for the audience; though the music is very hectic at times, the songs are in no rush to go anywhere compositionally. The music has the feel of a saga – MOONSORROW built the world up patiently and you as the audience decide how you act and move within it. Vikings, barren landscapes, battles, and northern misery all shone through their soundscapes. 

The music has a lot of tempo changes, with calmer imagery, as well as fast and hard attacks. There is always something happening and after a while, the steamrolling guitar walls bring the listeners into a trance. At times it felt like a sweeping movie score more than a metal band. Furthermore, the band looks good, into the music and living the stories they are telling via the music. The bloody face paint also helps them look the part and the smoke and atmospheric lights added to the whole experience. 

The final song was “Kaiku” before the intermission started calmly and introduced a male choir. The melody, to me, felt like images of old forests and a sort of Finnish feeling, with a lingering beautiful melody. It may have been at this point that there were a couple of guys doing serious Nazi salutes, which again made me quite uncomfortable. It admittedly ruined a bit of the good feeling I was having. 

The song “Tyven” played on a track before “Sankarihauta.” It’s a great song, one of the few that I recognized, and it was played with passion and strength. They then finished up with “Kivenkantaja” and “Santaritarina.” 

Overall, MOONSORROW puts on a really interesting show. I don’t usually see bands this heavy in the clubs, so it was a rather new experience. I enjoyed the combination of long songs, rough metal, with melodies that create worlds and stories, with no rush or pressure. It can at times be a bit tedious and relentless at times, but as a whole, it was a great experience. The controversy surrounding the opener, as well as the guys saluting, did overall make me question my choice to attend and took away from the experience. Though the show was great, this music is perhaps a bit easier to tackle at home where you can delve into it at your own pace. 

Setlist

  1. Karhunkynsi
  2. Haaska
  3. Pimeä
  4. Jotunheim
  5. Kaiku
  6. Tyven
  7. Sankarihauta
  8. Kivenkantaja
  9. Sankaritarina
  10. Matkan lopussa

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