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27 November 2010

Chapter 9.2

The total running time of the EP was more than an hour, which is not the most usual for an EP. Actually, only one of their own albums (Verisäkeet) lasts for more than one hour. Some people said: I don't know why they call it an EP if it lasts more than an hour. Others complained: what a rip-off album, only one new song and the rest covers and old stuff. They were actually answering each other: the band called it an EP because of that covers-and-old-stuff thing, and in fact emphasized a lot that it was in no way the sixth Moonsorrow album, even the title that appears in the cover is Tulimyrsky EP, thus leaving no possibility of misunderstanding - something similar to what Metallica did with their The garage days re-revisited: The $5.98 EP. A good thing was that it came out at EP price. "We just didn't want to do this half-way but decided to give the fans their money's worth with an overlengthy EP", stated Ville. The release was planned for March 26th, but it kept being pushed until April 30th, when it finally came out. I think nobody knew what to expect, some fans were afraid it would be a "Hävitetty 3", but again they surprised. The new song had elements from V&K and from Kivenkantaja, more melodic and faster, as well as from the two previous ones, with rougher sounds; and even a couple of parts so fast and aggressive that they remind Tämä ikuinen talvi. Besides this mixture of elements from all periods, of course they

Tulimyrsky front cover
maintained their usual epic sound, but there was something new: it was very evident that there was a story being told there. All of almost all their songs tell stories, but this case was different, it was obvious that "Tulimyrsky" was a narration with its introduction, development and ending. For the second time, the booklet comes without the translations, because apparently, even though it's translated by Ville, he then sends it to someone else to correct it, and the correction didn't arrive on time. We had to wait until September to see the translation in their site; the Finns were probably very happy with the story, but the rest, until then, had to content ourselves with guessing that here's a battle, here's a description of the landscape and this final part is a triumphal chant of those who won. Indeed, the song tells a story of swords, and is the continuation of the facts narrated in Voimasta. In this occasion, the attacked ones of the first story become the attackers, thus taking their revenge. Special mention is deserved by the illustration that comes with it, made by Belgian artist Kris Verwimp. The cover is a simple seaside landscape, with water and mountains in the background, very similar to Bathory's Nordland; nothing a priori that may remind a firestorm. When you unfold the whole sheet, you find out a magnificent drawing that shows some Viking longships in a shore and a horde of warriors burning a village. For me, it's undoubtedly the best Moonsorrow cover so far. The banner of this biography blog is an early sketch by Kris for that cover.

Click on this masterpiece to see it in 300 glorious DPI

Let's go back to the beginning of April. The second day of that month, Moonsorrow embarked a new touring festival called Paganfest, which took them around Europe together with Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Eluveitie and Týr. (That was the first Paganfest; it would be repeated in consecutive years with different line-ups.) From day 2 until 22, one concert per night. But then they encountered a problem that at this time seemed unlikely: a guy from the German anti-fascist organization BIFFF learnt about their next concert in the pub “SO36”, Berlin on 17th, and wrote a statement informing that the venue had programmed a festival of “extreme right music” with bands that, according to him, exhibited nazi symbols, xenophobic lyrics and so on and on. The text criticized Ensiferum for their martial-looking photos; Týr for their usage of the rune of the same name and for showing a blood stained sword in one of their covers, even mocking the note they have in their website saying that they have nothing to do with politics; Eluveitie for calling themselves

Paganfest Europe 2008: standard and Budapest posters
Celts; but the worst part was for Moonsorrow, who had more charges: to begin with, in their website they called themselves “crusaders of epic heathen metal”; the S in their logo is the Sigel rune, the same that appears in the nazi SS logo; in their official biography they claim to have “a good touch of national romanticism and a distinctively pagan approach”; in the lyrics of several songs in the early albums they talk about warriors and raising swords against the enemy. Concerning lyrics, the most attacked song was “Luopion veri” (“one of their hits” according to that site - I doubt they have played it after 2001, if ever), for being clearly anti-Christian, and some lines about beheading the invader in the name of the gods sound fascist when taken out of context. The author of the text compared these lyrics to those of an ancient national-socialist anthem. Even the Guild of the Runescratchers who made the stone for Kivenkantaja was criticized, because this German dude found the link in their site and also attacked them because of their pictures of runes.

Luopion veri

Chapter 9.1 - Index - Chapter 9.3

10 November 2010

Chapter 9.1

Chapter 8.2 - Index - Chapter 9.2

Ninth chapter:

On January 14th they started recording the EP, which would be called Tulimyrsky (Firestorm). This time they didn't go to Kemi, but chose to stay in Helsinki and record in Jive Studios, property of Jukka Varmo, who is also their live sound engineer. Now I could start to write about the recording process,

Jukka Varmo
but Marko and Henri do it better than me. Not being a studio diary, they kept telling stuff in the forum. Marko, please?

"It was only the title track that we had to hurry on the writing before entering studio. It was written ready a couple of days before the studio was supposed to start. We didn't even got time to rehearse it together so everybody had to learn their parts on their own (at home, work, bus, even in car haha!).

"It took 2 days to play the drums for every song so it's pretty much the same as on the earlier sessions. This time we've been extremely fast setting up the sounds because we work at our live engineer's studio and he knows what we need. Also every other instruments were played during the first week leaving 5 or 6 days for Ville to do his vocals without hurry and without being afraid of losing his voice."

Henri: "I just wanted to point out that EVEN we finished the composing of the title track only a couple of days before entering the studios, it does not mean that it's done hasty or something like that. As usual, the final tweaking took a LOT of time,

Tomi Koivusaari (Amorphis)
and I had e.g. three different versions how to end the song of which I had to choose from, etc. etc. We're all extremely satisfied with the material."

The recording was finished in the end of February. They had three guest musicians: Tomi Koivusaari (of Amorphis) sang some lead lines, Oppu Laine (of Mannhai) contributed to the choirs and Olav Eira, guitarist of the folk band Áigi and of Norse origin, helped Ville to correctly pronounce Norwegian "because we didn't want them to sound like Manowar do (for Oh-dinn's sake!)" and also read some fragments of the Edda in Icelandic / old Norse for the end of "Hvergelmir". As usual, they had Janne in choirs, and for the first time they hired an actor to put his voice in the narrations, which are also a novelty in Moonsorrow. The actor is called Turkka Mastomäki and is very famous in Finland, apparently, but not outside. It was also revealed that the new song would last for half an hour, and the other four would be two re-recorded songs from the demos: "Taistelu pohjolasta" and "Hvergelmir"; and

Turkka Mastomäki
the other two would be covers: "Back to North" by Merciless and "For whom the bell tolls" by Metallica, being the latter a recording they had done back in 2005, when they recorded Raah Raah Blääh; the arrangement and a demo recording had been done as early as 2003. Truth to say, it sounds much more like Moonsorrow than like Metallica. Curious fact: it's sung by Henri. And two questions they would be asked in all interviews are the ones Ville's answering here: "The Metallica cover was recorded in 2005, and in that moment we had no idea about the EP. When we started to plan this EP we knew this cover was still available and we could incorporate it. Concerning "Back to North", we used to play it live back in 2000/2001. [...] Covering Bathory in Moonsorrow style would be something very boring. It would sound too much like imitation of the original, and there is no point in doing an imitation. We chose Metallica and Merciless because we had our own, distinctly Moonsorrow-sounding vision of those two songs in mind."

For whom the bell tolls

Chapter 8.2 - Index - Chapter 9.2