Check out HOME OF THE WIND, the forthcoming documentary about Moonsorrow's first 20 years of history, based on this biography. Crowdfunding campaign starting in May!

12 January 2010

Chapter 1.1

First chapter:
Roots, bloody roots
(1995 - 1999)

Prologue · Back to index · Chapter 1.2

The history of Moonsorrow starts in November 1995 in Helsinki, Finland, during the rise of Scandinavian black metal, when the young cousins Henri Urponpoika Sorvali (b. Helsinki, October 19th, 1978) and Ville Seponpoika Sorvali (b. Helsinki, April 13th, 1980) decided to form a band; according to Henri, “to express our paganistic ideas and our love for metal music”, “singing about old times and heathenism in general, drawing musical inspiration from such creations as the first Enslaved mini LP or the first Ulver album”.

Thorns of ice artwork
The name of Moonsorrow comes from the Celtic Frost song “Sorrows of the moon”, there’s no deeper meaning.

In that period, they had several project bands, with which they recorded short demos (generally about ten minutes long) just for fun, and they released them through Meat Hook Productions, a sort of mini-label that they had formed for their releases and distributing some underground material. According to what the younger cousin explained in an interview in June 1999, “the roots of Meat Hook Productions date back to 1995 when I and Henri "released" our first musical effort called Masturbory. Since that there has come out 26 different demo recordings under MHP's banner, and humbly saying the quality has constantly gone for the better (concerning the start there were no options)”. Anyway, the label’s life was short; “we have found out that there is only 24 hours in a day”, the cousins said. The projects released by MHP were Ahti, Mikhail Atom, Gorewinter, Kharadrai, Lunar Womb, Masturbory, Moonsorrow, Nekroaaltouuni, Solar Tomb, Terrorthrone, Thornfrost, Unhola, Urospuu and Woods Of Belial, in seven of which Ville played, and Henri in eight.

Metsä artwork

They were many and only one survived. In Ville’s words again, “Moonsorrow has survived through the years, because it was something we really wanted to do and eventually it even became an actual band. The projects we had prior to Moonsorrow included such legends as Ahti and Masturbory as well as dozens of one-rehearsal projects that never recorded anything (at least not to be published). We were really expressing ourselves in every way from thrash metal to folk music... and as we were kids, the results were usually pretty terrible. The experience, however, was valuable.” It must be said thet Woods Of Belial also survived for some years and they even released an album in 2003, but its impact wasn’t even comparable to the main project’s.

Well, let's go back to our topic. So the project was there, and in February 1996 they recorded their first demo: Thorns of ice. It had an intro, two songs and an outro, all of them written and performed by the cousins; Henri did guitars, keys and voice (!), whilst Ville did the drums (yes, it was an actual drumset, not a machine) and part of the keyboards. They describe this demo as follows: “Rather awkward heathen metal with a 'norse' edge. A prototype of Moonsorrow's sound.” Unfortunately, during the mastering, the second half of the demo was accidentally destroyed; the best half, apparently. Because of this incident, and the fact that they had other personal issues, the demo never saw the light.

The second demo was named Metsä (which means Forest), although it was originally intended to be named Thrymgjöll (a name taken from an Edda, it’s the falling door that closes the house of the guardian of the bridge that takes to Hel, the underworld), but Ville

Issue of Metsä
didn’t like the name. Recorded and produced in only one day in May 1997 at Henri’s garage, with his cool 4-track thingie, it had better luck than the previous: it was released through Meat Hook Productions short after the recording with the catalog number MEAT11; 215 copies exist, which were sold out after a while.

Metsä has got an intro, two songs and an outro; yes, exactly the same as Thorns of ice, with the difference that the outro of Metsä is at the end of the second song’s track, so the demo has three tracks in total. Both songs deal with Nordic mythology. Its creators described it as “epic heathen metal with suggestive folk influences, clearly indicating the development of Moonsorrow's sound”. In this case, Henri did guitars, keyboards, drum machine programming and choirs (clean vocals), and Ville just added his voice. The original recording didn’t have a bass. Writing-wise, Henri did everything, music and lyrics. Even though he keeps saying the opposite, because it isn't satanic music, to me it’s completely black metal, highly influenced by Emperor and Enslaved early material. And the main riff of “Hvergelmir” is almost identical to the one of Immortal’s “Call of the wintermoon”. Truth to say, it didn’t have very good feedback at the time. In fact, I only read two reviews, but they almost say it’s crap.

Ahti - Seitsemän Miehen Voima (from Pohjantähti, 1995)

Masturbory - Satanic Ö.L.
(from The perkeldemons of Hareb-Serap, 1994-5)

Thornfrost - Sister Winter (from Upon the Faustian throne, 1997)

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