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!

29 January 2010

Chapter 1.3


Musically, the songs of Tämä ikuinen talvi are still quite black-ish, but they are getting sensibly more elaborated, with more slow parts, better and more complex instrumentation, and some songs divided into several parts. For example, “Taistelu Pohjolasta” (“The battle for Pohjola”) has three parts, each with its own title, and it tells, as well as the others, a story based on Nordic mythology, adorned with lines about beheading Christians every now and then. And the sound is much better, because this time they had a decent keyboard (Korg N-series) and better equipment in general. Except for the voice. The voice sounds horrible. But the instrumentation improved a lot. Its authors’ description is: “The fastest interpretation of epic heathen metal ever. Lotsa folk-influences blended with a 'norse' overall.” To me, it sounds like 50% Emperor and 50% Enslaved. The influences are sometimes very obvious; for example the beginning of Enslaved’s “Lifandi Liv Undir Hamri” is practically the same melody as one in “Taistelu Pohjolasta” (minute 5:13); the same can be said of Emperor's "I am the black wizards" and the minute 4:50 of "Talvi".

Tämä ikuinen talvi cover
Must be said, though, that many melodies here sound like Moonsorrow would sound later; saying it in a different way, they already have that ‘Moonsorrow essence’ they will never get rid of.

At this time, with two demos around, they had already a little legion of fans, although they had never played live yet. They sent demos to labels worldwide. Some of them answered, and the guys finally decided to accept the offer of the Swedish label Plasmatica Records, in April 1999, for one album. Even though they had their own, they preferred to look for another one; as Ville said: “To cut it short, Meat Hook Productions is (was) just a d.i.y. demo label somewhat equal to a self-financing band and it could never have succeeded with an actual album release. It was quite natural to release our demos on MHP, but we always knew that we would need another party to finance our debut album if such was to be recorded. Certainly lack of money played a role in that, but also the fact that the promotional and distributional capabilities of Meat Hook Productions were badly limited. We didn’t ever have enough contacts, let alone any knowledge of the market, so if released on MHP our album would probably have sold some 400 copies.

Meathooked #2 (1999)
Also, there are only 24 hours to a day, so having to do all the promotion ourselves would’ve surely gnawed our efficiency as a performing band.”

Until now, they had recorded all the percussion parts with one of those hateful drum-machines (hateful principally for those who have to play along with them), but in May 1999, during the Tämä ikuinen talvi promotion period, a human drummer joined them: Marko Tarvonen, aka Baron Tarwonen, who plays drums since he was seven and is a real lover of 70’s progressive rock: King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis… all those people. Seven years later, Ville talked about Marko’s inclusion with these words: “[Moonsorrow] was just a project for like 5 years. When we got the record deal, we decided to start up a real band, and he was the first to join us. And I think it went that way, that, we didn’t actually ask him to be our drummer, but he introduced himself as our new drummer.” Marko corroborates: “I liked their demo so much, and they did the demo with drum machine, and I liked it so much, and I said to the guys that when you are getting signed, I will be your drummer, I will help you out. And the rest is history.”


Vihrealla valtaistuimella (original 1999 master)

Chapter 1.2 - Index - Chapter 2.1

22 January 2010

Chapter 1.2


Very little time later, they started working on their following demo, which would be recorded on June (or July? I’m not sure) of 1997; one month after the first one, as you can see. Its purpose was merely promotional (it doesn’t even have a name or a cover, it’s just known as Promo); anyway it was never released, because there was a technical problem and the sound was horribly bad.

The two demos
Also, the cousins weren’t too convinced about it, because Ville had done his vocal parts in a very experimental way. “imagine something like Attila [of Mayhem] trying to sing clean while suffering from a bad stomach-ache and diarrhea”, said Henri, with his characteristic delicacy. Performance-wise, it was the same as Metsä (vocals by Ville, rest by Henri); it consisted of one song (with an English title, “Battlehymn”) and an outro, and it’s described as “folkish metal, a jolly variation of Metsä”. Looks like the world didn’t miss anything too important.

But the Sorvalis never stopped. In that time they had also a fanzine called Meathooked,

Some pre-Moonsorrow demos: Urospuu, Masturbory, Ahti and Thornfrost
which lasted not less than TWO! issues, the first of which came out in 1998 and the second in 1999. Besides, they still had the abovementioned label Meat Hook Productions (Henri, Ville and two more friends), with which we dealt in Chapter 1.1.

During the second half of 1997 they started to write new material for their second demo, which would be called Tämä ikuinen talvi (This eternal winter, in English). Until now, all the lyrics and titles were written in English, but when they started writing stuff for the following demo they turned to Finnish. The reason is basically that the one in charge of the lyrics was Ville this time around, and he prefered to do them in Finnish, as he says it’s more natural for him to write in his mothertongue. Henri explains it better: “When the band was formed the lyrics were in English, hence the name Moonsorrow. On the Tämä Ikuinen Talvi demo Ville tried something in Finnish and it sounded so great and there wasn’t any talk about doing English lyrics again. Finnish fits our music perfectly.” In March 1998 they went into the studio to record some parts; the rest was recorded in September. Like in previous times,

The Sorvali cousins in the first promo pic
Henri did everything except vocals and bass (being the latter introduced for the first time), which were done by Ville. Apparently they had a thousand problems: twice the tapes got ruined when they were partially done, machines disappeared from the studio, all kind of issues happened. Because of all this, it wasn’t officially released until January 1999 (almost a year after the recordings had started), again through Meat Hook Productions, number MEAT21. The first 200 tapes were made in ‘industrial’ tapes; the second pressing, consisting of 300 copies, was made with regular TDK tapes bought in shops; anyway, this doesn’t make them less ‘official’, since they were still recorded/dubbed and sold by Meat Hook Productions.

Little time before releasing TIT, Henri had joined Finntroll as a keyboard player, under the nickname Trollhorn.



Fimbulvetr frost (from original Metsä master)


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)



11 January 2010

Log

Note: the date of the posts is often mistaken, because I modify it intentionally to get them in the order I wish. Here can be seen all the dates of edition, corrections, updates and changes. If not stated otherwise, it's a creation.


2·X·2011: Krigsmjöd, or Henri's mead recipe.
12·IX·2011: Story of the "Sankarihauta" video added to ch. 3.2.
22·IV·2011: Promotional pictures uploaded.
17·IV·2011: "Kuolleiden maa" added to Marko's co-written songs and Henri's son's voice credited for participating in Varjoina in his dad's profile. All individual profiles copied to Encyclopaedia Metallum.
24·III·2011: Contact section improved.
17·I·2011: Janne's profile.
24·XII·2010: Markus's profile.
22·XII·2010: Statements. Linked from chapter 9.3.
13·XII·2010: Chapter 9.3.
27·XI·2010: Chapter 9.2.
10·X·2010: Chapter 9.1.
27·X·2010: Similarities.
10·10·10: Chapter 8.2.
27·IX·2010: Chapter 8.1.
11·IX·2010: Chapter 7.
28·VIII·2010: Mitja.
20·VIII·2010: Chapter 6.2.
14·VIII·2010: Fixed the links in About, which linked to the Spanish version.
10·VIII·2010: Chapter 6.1.
28·VII·2010: Updated information about "Valkoakaasiat" in the latest entry. Twice. Thanks to Óðinn.
24·VII·2010: The origin of "Matkan lopussa".
13·VII·2010: Chapter 5.2. Changed song in previous post ("Karhunkynsi", unrelated, for "Aika").
4·VII·2010: Chapter 5.1.
17·VI·2010: Chapter 4.2.
17·VI·2010: Corrected some details about the mastering of Suden uni in chapter 2.1. Colored in beautiful-beautiful shiny red the dates in this very log.
10·VI·2010: Chapter 4.1.
4·VI·2010: Blog's name changed from 'Moonsorrow Unofficial Biography' to 'U.M.B.', which I think is more correct. Also: corrections in Marko's profile (songs written & instrument in Chaosbreed - thanks Henri & Stefan)
1·VI·2010: Marko's profile.
[There was a temporary pause here, notified on April 26th.]
30·III·2010: Chapter 3.2.
20·III·2010: Chapter 3.1.
9·III·2010: Ville's profile.
28·II·2010: Chapter 2.3.
23·II·2010: Song "Talvi" added to Chapter 2.2 (Goear wasn't working the other day).
21·II·2010: Chapter 2.2.
16·II·2010: Chapter 2.1.
16·II·2010: Added: Ville and Hmas.org in Thanks and a Thornfrost song in Chapter 1.1.
7·II·2010: Henri's profile.
6·II·2010: Band picture added in Prologue.
3·II·2010: Corrected Ville's instruments in Thorns of ice (ch. 1.1). Added more info about pre-Moonsorrow projects in the same chapter, as well as two songs by Masturbory and Ahti, and deleted the Celtic Frost one.
30·I·2010: Nice-looking title added in the beginning of Chapter I.
29·I·2010: Chapter 1.3.
28·I·2010: Songs added to prologue and chapters 1.1 and 1.2.
23·I·2010: Friends added to thanks.
22·I·2010: Banner added. Edition in About.
22·I·2010: Chapter 1.2.
15·I·2010: This log.
15·I·2010: About.
14·I·2010: Contact.
12·I·2010: Chapter 1.1.
10·I·2010: Prologue.
5·I·2010: Main index.
December 2009: the blog is created.

10 January 2010

About

The license
The biography
The author
Thanks




All the text in the Moonsorrow Unofficial Biography written by Grilo Do Demo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Spain License. For more details about the meaning of all that, click here.

If you want to translate the biography into your language, contact me.

The text written by Grilo Do Demo is all the text written in this website, except the quotations, which are clearly indicated. These quotations are taken from many websites, mainly webzines and official Moonsorrow sites, and they belong to those sites. The ones I remember are mentioned in the Thanks section.

All pictures and images were found on the internet and none of them is placed under the Moonsorrow Unofficial Biography license.

Banner made with a sketch for Tulimyrsky, by Kris Verwimp. Used with permission of the author. The banner is not licensed under the abovementioned license.





It was originally supposed to be published in the blog Furia Asgardiana. When I started to write it, in July 2008, I didn't imagine I would find so much information; after a while I realised that it would be too much for the blog, so I decided to add some more stuff (prologue and appendixes, basically) and create a different blog for it. In December 2009 I finished the history 1995-2008; the rest isn't written yet, but the project is open and going through constant correction and update.

Most of the information is taken from news in their official site and dozens of interviews from the internet. I think I found about one hundred of them, most of them in English, but also many in Spanish and German, and some in French, Italian, Russian, Dutch and, of course, Finnish.






I'm just a Moonsorrow fan with too much free time. I listen to metal music since 2003 approximately, but in the beginning I disliked extreme metal and everything that had growls on it. In December 2006, my opinion changed after hearing Wintersun's track "Beyond the dark sun", and my mind opened a little bit. Some days later I eventually got the promo version of the new album by some Finnish band, which stirred up my curiosity because it was one hour long and had only two songs on it; I listened to it once and I fell in love. The rest, as it's usually said, is history.





Black Sabbath and all those British fellows for creating heavy metal.

Kimmo Kuusniemi and his Kimmo Kuusniemi Band (whose name later changed to Sarcofagus) for introducing heavy metal in Finland.

Henri, Ville, Marko, Mitja, Markus y Janne for creating the band, keeping it alive through constant renewal and continuing tours.

Without the people mentioned up to here, this biography wouldn't have been thought of by anybody.

I would also like to thank Bogdan and Óðinn for their help in finding the origins of "Matkan lopussa"; Gogsi, Velkaarn, the collaborators of DIME and the rest of people who helped me to have my little collection of Moonsorrow demos and bootlegs, as well as Eddie PLQ (Official Betatester), Tineo, Kaisa, Enlil, Falgarth, Abrahel, Dragonhead and the rest of fanatics I came across in the internet in some cases or real life in other cases, for showing me that there are still some people out there with a minimum of good taste :P

Special thanks to Kris Verwimp, who gave me permission to use his art in the banner, and to Ville Sorvali, who kindly offered himself to correct the whole biography.

Last but not least, I owe my deepest thanks to the many websites I collected all the information compiled here from:

Moonsorrow.com, in all its periods, including the time when it was moonsorrow.net and moonsorrow.cjb.net, all of them made by Stefan Lejon.
Hmas.org, which hosts the official forum.
Archive.org, thanks to which I could dive into the old versions I just mentioned.
Blabbermouth.net, tremendous archive.
Google Translator. I'm good at languages but not that much.

And lotsa webzines:

Friedhof Magazine
Paranoia Metal Show
Rafabasa
Hall Of Metal
Metal Team UK
Visions Underground
Lords Of Metal
Ratatosk Online
Revolver Mag
Blistering.com
Tartarean Desire
Ultimate Metal
Metal Injection
Metal1.info
SkullsNBones (Next time try to put voice LOUDER than background music. Please.)
Finnbands/Trash and Riot
Crimson Dawn
Hard and heavy

And many more. I can't remember even the 25%. If you find a quotation taken from your 'zine, tell me (via comment or email) and I'll add it ASAP.

Document created on 15·I·2010

Prologue




What is Moonsorrow? Moonsorrow is a Finnish metal band. Their sound is very difficult to define, because it varies a lot from one album to another, and we better not talk of categorising under one of the common labels – thrash, black, power, whatever. But some things stay: the epic feeling in most of their compositions, the beauty of their melodies, the complexity of their music and the depth of their sound. They define themselves as epic heathen metal. If you feel curious, the best you can do is to listen to it yourself, but I recommend you to listen to stuff from different periods, as they changed so much that they don’t even seem the same band. The lyrics are written completely in Finnish, except in their first demo, in which they used English. They prefer to write in their language because, logically, they can use it more naturally and fluently.

Another characteristic is that they sound quite differently in studio and live, for the simple reason that in studio they use a lot of arrangements and instruments, and they refuse to take pre-recorded stuff to concerts, so they manage with a keyboard. This doesn’t mean their gigs sound poor, but just more metal, with a less polished music but more direct. Imagery-wise, they usually stain their faces and torsoes with cow blood. (No, they don't kill cows - they just go to the closest butchery.)

The band’s biography can be summarized saying that it was formed by cousins Henri and Ville Sorvali in 1995, but didn’t become something serious until 1997; since then, they released two demos, five full.length albums and one EP, in this order, and currently the band is composed by five musicians: two guitarists, a drummer, a keyboardist and a bass guitarist, who also sings. The choirs are performed by all of them. Generally, when playing outside Finland, a live session guitarist replaces Henri.

They never had any political position as a band, but their ideology is openly pagan and romantic, which means, among other things, admiration and respect towards nature, ancient traditions and folk culture in general; their lyrics usuallydeal with this kind of topics, and their compositions often have folkloric influences.




Moonsorrow - Sankarihauta (2001)


09 January 2010

Contact

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