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!

17 June 2010

Chapter 4.2

During the months that followed the release of Kivenkantaja (remember we are in 2003) they did several concerts, including Tuska festival in Helsinki on July 11th, and recorded a new videoclip, this time for an edited version (five minutes instead of ten, approximately) of “Jumalten kaupunki”. In an interview of December 2002, Henri didn’t seem too happy about the idea of making a video: “A video would be nice, but as our songs are not the shortest around, it would pretty frustrating to edit the songs to last for 4-5 minutes, as they tend to lose their musical meaning then in my opinion. If we ever did one, though, it must be done very professionally and good-looking. This kind of band has all the elements of failuring the video lurking behind, as there is a very fine line between «pompous and dramatic» and «pathetic and laughable». If I could choose, it wouldn't be a

Autumn in Finland
«story» but more like a scenario, or «sum» of the story of the song. And of course it would include forests, castles, horses, swords, battles, fire, and things like that with no guitars etc. at all. Now imagine how easy it would be to turn a great, Ýberpompous video-idea into a massive pile of world's most pathetic crap a'la Grave Digger or Rhapsody.” But finally they did it, and they did it the way Henri wanted: with warriors and swords. Mitja studied Image and Sound and had worked in a television studio; that studio is where they recorded the video, and the director was Mitja himself. “We got this huge TV-studio for one weekend for free because Mitja has studied and worked there previously. So he got some of his fellows to assist on the production (or “production”). We set the staging ourselves and shoot some shit with two expensive cameras. Also we got these guys who are mad about Viking and all the medieval stuff acting some sword fights”, tells Marko. Those guys he mentions are involved in an association dedicated to medieval and iron age re-enactment, some of which are old friends of

Tuska 2003
Henri’s. The videoclip turned out to be quite decent, but later they stated that they will never make another video. “We just concentrate on being ridiculous otherwise. We don't need any videos for that”, joked Ville, in the same interview in which Mitja told, “it was supposed to start with the words «Now, this is spinal tap! », but Henri disagreed”.

On September 6th 2003 they announced that they had signed a new contract with Spikefarm for two more albums. The first thing they did was to immediately start preparing the re-release of Suden uni, since Spikefarm had finally got the rights from Plasmatica. That autumn they sent it to Mika Jussila to have it re-mastered (or rather mastered for the first time - see chapter 2.1), designed a totally new booklet with a different cover artwork by Niklas Sundin (guitarist of Dark Tranquillity and professional graphic designer) and translations of the lyrics, took some new promo photos, put together their two videoclips and four songs recorded live at Tuska 2003 in a DVD, and on December 8th it was in the shops. I found a review whose writer complained about the album being re-released after only two years; obviously, this person didn’t know the story of all the trouble with Plasmatica. Truth to say, the improvement in the sound of the album is noticeable. Concerning Tuska, the four songs included are all they played

A wolf's dream as imagined by Niklas Sundin
except for one; the lacking one is “Raunioilla”, whose sound quality wasn’t considered good enough to be published. (However, that particular song was aired by the Finnish TV channel YLE in a report about the festival that also appeared in the internet; if any of you readers own a good quality version of this footage, please let me know!) Moreover, they added a bonus track to the CD: “Tulkaapa äijät!”, recorded during the Kivenkantaja sessions and featuring the Lejon brothers and the Thyrane guys. It’s a Korpiklaani-like traditional party tune, recuperated by Swedish duo Nordman under the title “Kom un gubbar”; Ville translated the lyrics of this version into Finnish, and it’s played in a very ‘alcoholic’ way – which is quite, erm, unexpected, since the lyrics talk about a funeral and are supposed to be spoken by the dead person. But apparently funerals in Scandinavia used to be quite big parties in the past. There’s no need to say that the Plasmatica versions became then rarities.

Tulkaapa äijät!

Chapter 4.1 - Index - Chapter 5.1

10 June 2010

Chapter 4.1

Fourth chapter:
Of celluloid and lots of melody

There was expectation among their fans, but they preferred not to upload any song (or piece of a song) until the album was out. The release was a little delayed for reasons of the label’s agenda, but finally, three months later, March 10th 2003 to be precise, Kivenkantaja was released in Europe (and also in the rest of the world, I think), so finishing the two-album contract they had with Spikefarm.

Kivenkantaja artwork
Six days after the release, and for the first time in the history of Moonsorrow, the album appeared in the Finnish charts, being this fact a surprise for everyone. Ville described the moment when they knew abou it as “one of those ‘what the fuck’ moments”.

Concerning the album, it’s the most melodic they ever did. Henri tells that he had listened to a lot of classical music and film soundtracks during some months before the composition of the songs, and he took many elements from that kind of music. The songs, always keeping that Moonsorrow sound, have more complex structures, longer durations and an overall baroque sound, so to say. Pompous and adorned and high-flown and so on. As always, Henri wrote the music for all the songs, with Marko’s collaboration in some cases, and Ville did the lyrics,

Pacific warriors
which also evolved: while the previous albums told stories and battles, becoming somehow softer every time (from the “christian beheading” in the demos to the “warrior’s destiny” in V&K), now they’re mostly descriptive and abstract poems. It’s undoubtedly the most melodic and calm album they have. However, the promo pics still showed chainmails, shields, swords and torches.

The cover artwork has an anecdote too. To make the rune, they contacted an association which dedicates to that exactly: drawing runes in stones. The Guild of the Runescratchers, it's called. This particular stone was called Moonstone. When it was made, they took it in a truck to a forest to take the photo; but it was so heavy that they couldn’t move it to a more adequate place. They tried to transport it on a wheelbarrow, and as a result it got smashed and the wheel exploded, so the photo is taken a few meters away from the truck. “The whole Stonebearer concept is about us carrying that runestone on the cover from the woods of Myrskylä to Helsinki”, joked Marko. The stone was then relocated to the backyard of the Spinefarm office, broken in two pieces. Since a series of renovations that eventually splintered the stone into smaller pieces, and after Spinefarm moving their office elsewhere, the fate of the Moonstone (or what was left of it) remains unknown.

Looking for interviews of this period, I found one by Heart Of Steel/Metal Rules that turned out to be quite revealing, as it anticipates lots of things. When asked, concerning the 13 minutes of “Raunioilla”, if they impose themselves any limits for the duration of the songs, Ville answers: “No time frames, the songs just take shape. If we ever have a good song that is 20

The Moonstone in the works
minutes in length, we will use it!” When the interviewer asks about the evolution from Voimasta ja kunniasta to Kivenkantaja, saying that the atmospheres get more epic and melodic, Marko is conscious that keeping going in the same direction could be a mistake, and reveals: “Yes, there´s always the problem how to top the previous works, but so far we´ve succeeded in it. I think the next album is going to have more dynamic variations. […] I´m personally going to concentrate on the more guitar-oriented stuff on next album”. Finally, when asked wether they would do an album with just one very long song, Marko says that they had thought about it, but find it a very risky thing to do. “We might do a fast and ugly firestorm as well next. We´ll see…” With these declarations, they are anticipating their future projects one year, three and even five, respectively. We’ll deal with all this in next chapters.

Tuulen tytär / Soturin tie

02 June 2010



Marko Tarvonen

Also known as Baron Tarwonen, he was born on March 21st 1978, what makes him the oldest Moonsorrow member, and since he was very young he had an increasing interest towards music, which led him to start playing drums being 7 years old. That same year, 1985, he entered the Pop & Jazz Conservatory in Helsinki. He took lessons there for just over ten years, un til he decided to start creating his own music. In the beginning of the 90s he started to play guitar as well, and he still does some acoustic guitar parts in Moonsorrow. He also likes singing, and does choirs everytime he can. But his thing is undoubtedly percussion, and that’s what he plays in all the bands and projects he participates in. His main influence is 70s progressive rock, which he declares himself a great fan: King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull… he even participated for several years in a Pink Floyd tribute band. These influences are evident in the songs written by him, generally representing the more calm and progressive side of Moonsorrow. As told in the biography, Henri participated in the composition of every single song, but in some of them, Marko’s contribution is predominant. The complete list of tracks written partially by him is:

Jumalten kaupunki;
Kivenkantaja (one riff);
Tuleen ajettu maa;
Kuolleiden maa.

Marko is possibly the Moonsorrow member with the highest number of active parallel bands. Currently he’s an official member of at least Arthemesia, October Falls and Barren Earth, and some years ago he made an album with an old-school death metal project called Chaosbreed (here he played guitar, while drums were done by Nalle Österman), which is dead nowadays. Before Moonsorrow, he and Markus had a black metal band called Gorewinter; in fact, they met the cousins when Meat Hook Productions signed them. Marko was a member of both bands for a while but, after three demos, Gorewinter came to a state of inactivity until its complete abandonment, in the year 2000 or 2001.

Gorewinter (ca. 1999)


Moscow 20·VIII·2005

Barren Earth - Our twilight (album version)
(music and lyrics by Marko)