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Moonsorrow – Heritage: 1995-2008 – The Collected Works

Blood Music‘s operating principle is to avoid half-assed-ness. They’re always whole-assed. (Actually, they’re usually multiple whole-asses, asses to the power of some unimaginable ass number that only the John Nash of asses could calculate.) The Finnish label “dedicated to the anthropological and cultural preservation of extreme metal music” have been on a mission to cripple mailmen carrying their massive reissue projects since 2011. For instance, this is how they answer a question: Do you enjoy Strapping Young Lad? Good, here’s a seven LP set that’s bigger than Hevy Devy’s old skullet. That’s their game. They won’t stop until a band’s entire vault is raided, redesigned, strikingly packaged, and proudly displayed in your home.

They’re in it for record nerds. They serve the girl who holds albums aloft like the Triforce, the guy who pays attention to things like which region produced the best sounding pressing. They serve the metalhead that sees the words “14 LP Moonsorrow box set” and starts searching Craigslist for a second job to cover the expenses.

Wait, a 14 LP Moonsorrow box set?

Yep, look at the “splatter” version:

And here are your specs, per Blood:

Moonsorrow “Heritage: 1995-2008 – The Collected Works” Box Set — Splatter Edition

NOTE: There will only be 100 copies of *this version* available.

Pre-orders begin: May 28th, 2014.
Release – late August, 2014.

Inside:

• All recorded works by Moonsorrow from their inception in 1995 until the year 2008.
• All works specifically remastered for vinyl by Troy Glessner (Devin Townsend Project).
• Twenty-five pieces of new artwork by Rainbath Visual (Deafheaven, Moss) and Nucleart Design (Impaled Nazarene, Setherial), in addition to the original artwork and photographs for all albums.
• Layouts by Travis Smith (Strapping Young Lad, Katatonia, Opeth).
• 14-LPs – the largest metal box set of all-time, containing nearly 8 hours of music on heavyweight 200-gram audiophile virgin vinyl LPs.
• 21 live, demo, unreleased, and rare bonus tracks.
• The first time nearly all of this material has been pressed on vinyl.
• “Suden Uni” (2001) LP in heavyweight gatefold jacket with heavyweight printed insert.
• “Voimasta Ja Kunniasta” (2001) 2xLP in heavyweight triple gatefold jacket.
• “Kivenkantaja” (2003) 2xLP in heavyweight triple gatefold jacket.
• “Verisäkeet” (2005) 3xLP in heavyweight triple gatefold jacket.
• “V: Hävitetty” (2007) 2xLP in heavyweight triple gatefold jacket.
• “Tulimyrsky” (2008) 2xLP in heavyweight triple gatefold jacket.
• “Demos & Rarities” (1995-1999) 2xLP in heavyweight gatefold jacket.
• “Ravaged Road” (2014) feature length – 45 minute – tour documentary DVD, created by the band specifically for the set.
• “Tulimyrsky” ultra-wide, panoramic poster – 1400mm x 285mm (55 in. x 11 in.) – the widest possible print in the entire country.
• Moonsorrow “Heritage” turntable slipmat. [EXCLUSIVE TO DIE HARD AND SPLATTER EDITION ONLY]
• Every single record pressed on a different color configuration of half-and-half colored transparent vinyl with a psychedelic heavy splatter – planned 100% in conjunction with the band and according to the colors contained within the original album artwork. [EXCLUSIVE TO SPLATTER EDITION]
• 2-piece, custom-cut, heavyweight box, specially designed and shaped for this set.

Price: 325 EUR + Shipping
[special 350 USD + Shipping for USA/Canada only]

Other versions that will be available: Die Hard Edition, White Edition, and Die Soft Edition.

I needed a weight belt just to type that.

So, yeah, Finland’s Moonsorrow don’t exactly half-ass it, either. Over a near 20 year career, the epic heathen metal balladeers have constantly gone above and beyond, both in length and bombast. Their discography is littered with longform legends recounting equally fantastic tales pulled from Finnish mythology. Plus, they’re obsessed by sonic details; Blood Music kinda obsessed. Makes sense. That’s the kind of person who loses bodily control after seeing the words “14 LP Moonsorrow box set.”

Anyway, in honor of this over-the-top undertaking, I decided to go just as gonzo. If Blood Music were going to collect nearly all of the Moonsorrow, I wanted to listen to nearly all of the Moonsorrow. I, uh, wanted to listen to nearly all of the Moonsorrow in a single day. No biggie, I’m fanatical about the outfit. Plus, I don’t think it’ll be much of a time sink. It’s. . .seven hours. Oh. Oh man. Eh, screw it, for METAL SCIENCE!

— Ian Chainey

Phase 1


Albums: Metsä (Demo) and Tämä ikuinen talvi (Demo) (Note: Skipping the rare stuff, 1996’s Thorns of Ice and 1997’s Promo)
Years: 1997 and 1999
Background: At this point, Moonsorrow were two men, cousins Henri Urponpoika Sorvali (guitars, synths, vocals, “drums”) and Ville Seponpoika Sorvali (vocals, slacker). They were sorta the Ween of grandiose black metal if Ween were cousins and Scotchgard was mead. (So. . .not. . .at all. . .) When Metsä was laid to tape, the Sorvalis had been tremming for two years under the nickname inspired by Celtic Frost’s “Sorrows of the Moon.” And there is something Frostian about them at this early stage, resembling an Enslaved practicing Into the Pandemonium daily. They aim for magnificence, ornamenting compositions in the manner of katamari balls. Downside: Ville sounds like a squeezed ketchup bottle. The 2002 reissue would fix that.

Two years later (numerology!), our dudes have grown. Literally, actually, adding Marko “Baron” Tarvonen (acoustic guitar, drums) and a bevy of new instruments to their arsenal. Moonsorrow grew in the artistic sense as well since it’s clear ambition has spurred on a need for them to take riskier leaps. Around this release, Henri began trolling around in Finntroll under the name Trollhorn. (I. . .don’t get the concept.) As you’d expect, the folkiness of aforementioned starts creeping into Moonsorrow’s jams. Accordion! Tin whistle! Mouth harp! That said, this is still frostbitten. Skip ahead to “Taistelu pohjolasta”‘s second section and watch them take a seat upon the Emperor’s throne. Granted, it moves toward the epic, but everything is pretty freaking ensorcelled. After all, the album’s title translates to This Eternal Winter.

Physical Response: I’m about an hour into the experiment and my brow has frozen into a furrow. I’m also frowning. No one in the office notices.

Emotional Response: I catch myself Google Image searching cabins. I have a strange urge to breathe fire. I take a sip of too-hot coffee and, instead of saying ‘ow,’ I laugh like a 19th century strongman. Ha ha ha, silly evil water. I put a lot of change in my pocket and pretend I’m wearing chainmail.

Phase 2


Albums: Suden Uni and Voimasta Ja Kunniasta
Year: 2001
Background: If you ever want to do a deep dive down the Moonsorrow rabbit hole, you can look up that the band produced two, fully fleshed out long-players in a single year. Well, kind of. Suden Uni, A Wolf’s Dream, was mostly written in 1999, recorded in February 2000, and didn’t find a home until February of 2001. Voimasta Ja Kunniasta, Of Strength and Honour, went a little faster and slid onto future long-time booster Spikefarm Records’ slate in December 2001. No matter the time-frame, the change from demo to debut and follow-up is startling. (Especially if your version of Tämä ikuinen talvi isn’t the 2001 remaster.) The trio remained the same, yet the sound has evolved completely. What once were charming stabs at sweet suites have blossomed into stylish symphonies complete with sweeping pseudo-strings. (Moonsorrow chose wisely when it came to places to record. Tico-Tico Studios has served them well.) Voimasta Ja Kunniasta, in particular, keenly leans upon the multi-tracked choir. Of course, the newfound dexterity in the solo and leads department certainly doesn’t hurt. Mitja Harvilahti, who ups the member count to a quartet, plays like the result of a war hinges on his every note. Moonsorrow, one time steely white walkers, are now imparters of passion. Again, this evolution took place over two years. Two. It has taken me longer to learn how to clean a litter box without dropping poop on my feet.

Physical Response: I scratch my chin. Surprise: I seem to have a beard. No, false alarm, it’s a clump of bean sprouts from lunch. No, wait, it’s a clump of bean sprouts in my new beard. I get up to see if I can use these hairs of Gaia to barter for meat.

Emotional Response: I’ve spent the last hour sharpening a ruler as one would a sword. I am now going to light a fire in the trash can and use it to cook the Hungry-Man I liberated from the break room fridge. Ha ha ha, silly ‘Kevin.’ Next time, keep a closer eye on your resources. I sacrifice a dry-erase marker to the cubicle mother in thanks of my windfall.

Phase 3


Albums: Kivenkantaja and Verisäkeet
Years: 2003 and 2005
Background: For most, we’re entering Moonsorrow’s golden period of power folk before they’d blacken their aesthetic again. Kivenkantaja, Stonebearer, showcases the group as a quintet, adding Lord Eurén as a keyboardist. This frees up Ville to add “door” to his musical arsenal according to the Encyclopaedia Metallum credits. If that’s the reason his vocals have matured into an eagle screech, then budding singers would do well to get elevator operator day-jobs. But, it’s not just Ville who has filled out. Moonsorrow is now strutting with the confidence of legit opera composers, oozing greater drama than a Wagnerian telenovela. (“Unohduksen lapsi”!) The hard edge has been subbed for lushness. That reads as a metal contradiction, a potential no-no of the Load variety, except it’s difficult to damn the method of transportation when you feel like you’re actually going somewhere.

Verisäkeet, Bloodverses, is in the Kivenkantaja vein, though there’s a noticeable increase in the density and abrasiveness of the guitar tone. It’s also their longest statement, clocking in at a whopping 70 minutes. The extra ticks aren’t wasted. Verisäkeet rides repetition to great effect, wringing out all it can from the progressions. This is when the all-of-the-kitchen-sinks instrumentation pays off, offering enough countering timbres to keep you engaged. It’s the height of their career if seen through an objective eye.

Physical Response: 10 minutes ago, my shirt burst with bulging biceps. I stand a full eight inches taller. I think I can see in the dark. I enter the supply closet and don’t turn on the light. Ha ha ha, staples, you can not escape the eyes of the hunter. I eat the entire complimentary basket of muffins in the conference room. I punch a hole in the water cooler. I sleep atop the copier like a bear.

Emotional Response: I deliver an inspiring speech during a sales meeting I wasn’t invited to attend. I hold the intern down and tattoo runes using a Bic pen. I task him with playing a steady drum beat behind me as I do data entry. I make the HR director refer to me as Lord Excel. I leg wrestle the FedEx man until security is called. I have been sent home for the day.

Phase 4


Albums: V: Hävitetty and Tulimyrsky
Years: 2007 and 2008
Background: The two track, 56 minute, V: Hävitetty, Chapter V: Ravaged, is my favorite Moonsorrow album, despite me regarding the previous couple as definitive statements. V: Hävitetty is fat. The girth is earned. One has to sit a little longer until the crescendos pay you back. Still, V: Hävitetty is just undeniable when the march gets moving. I believe, as I did in 2007, you could con PBS into funding an orchestral performance with a pledge drive sandwiched between the sections. (“At the $25 donor level, you’ll receive a Call the Midwife mug filled with ram’s blood!”) Guys, there are bells. Bells. BELLS.

Tulimyrsky, Firestorm, on the other spiked gauntlet, is the least appreciated of their label-backed material, which is unfair as it’s clearly a fan-only kind of affair; as most 68 minute EPs tend to be. The existence of Tulimyrsky increases the shine of V: Hävitetty, demonstrating how the act of going long doesn’t work in and of itself. In comparison, V: Hävitetty sounds as though it was agonizingly edited. [Ed. note: I stand corrected. Read Henri’s note below.] “Tulimyrsky” is looser. That’s an easily refutable quibble, though. Moonsorrow is obviously blowing off steam, as evidenced by their giddy reads of Metallica and Merciless. In addition, it effectively brings their first act run to a fitting conclusion, redoing two of the old demo tracks. After this, Century Media snapped up the sad satellites for 2011’s Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa; although, that’s a tale for a different 14 LP box set.

Physical Response: I am pure celestial energy. My legs and arms are bigger than Yggdrasil. Bow to me, for I am your beginning and end.

Emotional Response: I’ve hooked my cats to a make-shift sled. They are pulling me as we terrorize the neighborhood. I am tossing bowling balls covered in lighter fluid at passing iron dragons. Authorities give chase. Faster Purbot, faster Snuggle Ears. I am caught but not contained. Ha ha ha, “bail.” Bail will not keep me from the next world. I call out of work for the rest of the week. Holy shit.

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