Welcome to the Moonsorrow Interviews Compilation!
Here you will find more than one hundred Moonsorrow interviews, many of which have already disappeared from where they were originally posted. Check the Index and Contact pages above and the notes in the left column for more info.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lords of Metal / March 2011


A few weeks ago ‘Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa’ was launched at the world, the brand new Moonsorrow album. ‘As Shadows We Walk In The Land Of The Dead’ is the English title. This intense scream out of infinity is a very captivating piece of art, taking you to a post-apocalyptic world after the end of that world. This gloomy atmosphere is caught perfectly in a new soundtrack by the Finnish masters of pagan. Fans of black/pagan metal will be enchanted! The description of ‘most majestic album of the year’ fits very well and is not exaggerated. We picked guitarist Mitja Harvilahti from an Italian terrace and the interview could start. As always it turned into a very debonair conversation.

Text: Vera

Interviewing a band on the road is not easy. Once again we have experienced it. Moonsorrow is travelling through Europe at this particular time, being part of the Paganfest tour with Korpiklaani, Eluveitie, Unleashed, Varg, Arafel and Kivimetsän Druidi. A few agreements were cancelled, but finally the day had arrived when we succeeded in talking. At that moment the band was in Bologna, Italy.

Hello Mitja. How are you? How is the tour going?
It is going very well. The weather is fine. Everybody’s out, drinking beer and having a good time. A very relaxed day.

Is Henri with you now or is it the usual live constellation doing this tour?
Well, Henri was with us for more than half of the tour, but he flew back home already, we have guitar player Janne Pertilä once again with us now, because many years ago Henri played in Finntroll as well and he quit touring with them as well. He doesn’t want to be on tour anymore, he doesn’t like playing live that much and he also has a family.

Which new songs do you play on this tour?
We play the last song ‘Kuoleidden Maa’ and we play ‘Muinaiset’.

The last song ‘Kuolleiden Maa’ would be my favourite if I had to choose one. Can you tell a bit more details about this huge epic composition?
It is the ending of the last chapter on the album. The final chapter when everything is dead and there is no hope for humanity anymore. That song is about it.

So we can see it as a concept album?
Oh yes, it is the strongest concept album we have ever made because everything goes hand in hand: the music and also the artwork and pictures are part of that concept.

But I think it is the first time that the band is pictured on the artwork…
Yes, indeed. We did not want to make an ordinary band photo on the last page of the booklet or something. We realized we should work with the band members in the pictures instead of a model or so.

There are many bands on this Paganfest tour and the next days even two more. Does it mean that Moonsorrow’s set is shorter?
It is a bit short, it is fifty minutes. It is alright, but with the length of our songs it would be better to play at least an hour or even more.

I remember when we did the previous interview, at the time of ‘V:Hävitetty’, that you said: people should listen many times to the album before judging. What are your feelings now about this album in that respect?
This one was different for me. I was there at the mixing and after it was done, I listened to it a couple of times. For the first time I think there was nothing to be changed. I liked every second. Usually we have very strong criticism on everything we do. Sometimes it is impossible to listen to the album, because some parts or vocals are not like we wanted them. That has been irritating me a lot, but this time everything fell in place and I am very satisfied with it. I haven’t listened to it for a couple of months now, but I will when I get home and see if it is changed. But we are all very satisfied with the result.

I think it is a little bit harsher and more direct, or am I wrong?
Yeah, it was meant to be very cold and in a way different from ‘V: Hävitetty’, because we wanted to add new elements, almost an industrial feeling to it, not so natural. I mean the drum are natural, but in the first song ‘Tähdeton’ you can hear some coldness that we never had before and the guitar sound is very harsh. It gives a contrast with the more folky stuff. Overall it is a more aggressive and colder album than we have done before.

I agree with that; only in the latest track I see a kind of resemblance with previous works, because it is more epic…
Yes, that’s true but when we starting working on the music, we realized that we wanted to have a mix between ‘Kivenkantaja’ and ‘Verisäkeet’: the symphonic and kind of progressive elements of ‘Kivenkantaja’ and then the harshness of ‘Verisäkeet’. We should have the little faster parts very much like heavy metal and then the very doomy parts.

Very typical are the short intermezzos on the album. Can we see this as moments of rest in between the chapters?
Yes, that is what it basically is and that has been written so that, when you look at the booklet, there are even lyrics for the soundcapes. These small lyrics take the story further. So this album shouldn’t be listened to as MP3, but as an entirety with artwork. Then you can actually understand what is going on in the story.

Lords of Metal

The artwork/cover of ‘V: Hävitetty’ has a kind of prophetic aura now: since then many volcano’s on earth started to become active again. Now you make an album about the end of the world and people in Japan almost experience that. Isn’t it getting scary?
Indeed, lots of the things that we have been singing about are actually happening right now, especially in Northern Africa as well. I think time is in a way crucial to people, because this album is about greed of humans. We all became so greedy that we decide over the world and nature and ourselves. That’s what we can see in North Africa, they rise against the power. The revolution is coming and I hope that the destruction of natural resources by humanity will stop before it is too late.

I remember ‘V:Hävitetty’ was mainly Henri’s composing work, but what about this one? Can you tell about your ideas that ended up on this album?
My personal ideas were mostly about the instrumental parts I did. Henri’s composing – even though it sometimes looks as if he is not so much present in the band, since he does not tour – has been stronger than ever on the last two albums. He has done really most of the stuff. The other members just came in with some parts, like melody lines or guitar solos. I create my own solos and I play them. Mainly the music was in the hands of Henri completely and that was even stronger than before. Ville has brought in a riff or so, the rest is Henri. The studio that we used for composing the album was Henri’s work studio. So we could not be there all the time, he was mostly alone and we checked out the process and added some things.

This time you used the Tico Tico studios only for the mix. Where did you recorded the album then?
We recorded in many studios. We did the drums and bass at Finnvox Studios, a very big and very good studio in Helsinki. Then we went to Sonic Pump Studios, also very good studio, and recorded all the rest of the instruments and did the choirs. Then we went to a cabin in the woods with a mobile studio. Ville did his vocals in the cabin in the middle of the forest late October. But when we went to Tico Tico it was already winter, way up there in the north. There’s nothing you can do in Kemi than sitting in the studio and drinking, that’s the problem of this town (laughs). People are moving out of there all the time, because it is so harsh. It looks like a ghost town, I shouldn’t be able to live there.

What were the instruments you used besides the regular rock instrumentation on this album?
We used plenty of stuff, like mandolin, bouzouki, the violin player of Turisas played violin, I played saw (when you cut wood, you play it with a violin bow – woodcutter saw, you can find the explanation [urlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_saw]here[/url]. A very nice instrument. And then of course loads of keyboards, some harp, vacuum cleaner pipes and a lot of percussions, key chains and also in the song ‘Huuto’ during that marching part, we use our shoes and key chains while tapping our bellies in front of the microphone (laughs). It is always interesting to experiment.

How did you come to the title ‘Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa’, because that’s a very long title?
Yeah, that was Ville’s decision. I wanted to have a very short title. I know it is hard to understand and pronounce for not Finnish speaking people. It summarizes the team very well though.

You have a long time contract with Spinefarm, that’s a positive thing, isn’t it?
Indeed, we have a long time tradition with Spinefarm Records, but now we do not have a deal at the moment. It was finished with this album and we will see what happens in the future. There are good and bad things about Spinefarm, but that is the case with every label. They are good friends of ours, that’s nice. We will see.

Now you are doing the Paganfest tour, but what are the plans for the rest of the year?
When we go home, we immediately start playing in Finland. We have many shows coming up. Then, after the Finnish shows, it is already festival time. We will release the list of the festivals after these Paganfest shows. There will be quite a few Central European festivals we play and we also are working on a tour for the fall where we will headline. Maybe with another co-headliner, but anyway, we will headline. We haven’t been headlining for many years in Europe, so that’s going to be quite interesting. It is about time for a proper headline club tour.

Well, I don’t think you will make video clips?
Not for this album, but we are planning a massive DVD or whatever it will be in the future. We have been shooting material for a long, long time. It will be a double DVD. We have to do this. Everybody just takes one show and some stupid extras, that does not give anything to somebody. We want to do better. You watch it once and forget about it. We want to make the biggest package we ever done. It is material from the road and the studios for many years. Now we are in the middle of editing the documentary about the new album. Very interesting stuff. Then we will take live clips of shows we will be shooting later on this year. I think it will be the best DVD I can think of if we succeed in our plans. There will even be an interview section. On our website people can interact with us and their names will be on the DVD. We would never ask somebody how our music should sound, that is our art, but DVD is a different media, something on which we can communicate with the people and ask what they want to see. That makes sense to decide that this kind of collection is something where fans can be part of it.

Metal Underground / October 2011

Link 1 | Link 2

Interview with Ville Sorvali of Moonsorrow

Moonsorrow is very different then other Folk/Pagan metal bands in the genre, while they may not be giving us happy drinking songs, they have a strong and very distinct appeal that has made them a successful band. Following the release of their last album "Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa" Moonsorrow has been quite busy! I caught up with Ville Sorvali prior to the start of this years Metalheim Festival where we talked about their first Asian tour, the new album as well as some ideology and what the Moonsorrow concert experience should be.


So this is actually our first interview with Moonsorrow, so why don’t you introduce and tell our readers a bit about yourself, and the band?

I’m Ville with Moonsorrow, we play pagan metal and that’s about it!

Ok, great! So you just got back from a tour in Asia, where you were the first western metal band in Northern China, how did that go, any thoughts on that?

Hmm that particular show was very interesting because obviously they didn’t have any western bands, I don’t even know if they’d had Chinese bands. From the technical view it was very challenging, In the end everything worked well and the show was simply amaxing. Most of those people had never seen a band in their lives, at least if they didn’t travel outside their hometown. So they went absolutely nuts and managed to destroy the mixing desk as well.


Yeah by spilling beer. It was a really cool party!

Well that’s got to be a pretty good feeling though! Did you find there was a language barrier there?


Well they don’t speak much English and certainly not Finnish.

It was very hard to get anything done, in our Chinese crew there were two people that spoke English and that’s about it. All the locals only spoke Chinese, and we had to have everything translated when we wanted to speak with the locals.

O wow. It’s very complicated then. Well on the subject of language, since we are an American website, not too many Finnish speakers. Would you mind to tell our readers a bit about the concept of the last album “Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa”?

Yeah it’s a concept album about life after the end of the world. And it’s a survival story, or a non survival story, because actually at the end everyone dies. It’s a fictional thing I had in my mind, what would the world look like after most of the people are gone.

And it does evoke that imagery! If we were to go through a few of your favorite songs on the album, what would they be about? Metaphors, symbolism and whatnot.

Hm. Well my absolute favorite it the last song “Kuuolleiden Maa”, it’s somehow very personal and it’s the conclusion of the story there is only one person left and he realizes what he has done. In the previous song he has killed a lot of his own group because they all went insane and he is the only one left and he just wants to end his life as well because he realizes all the atrocities and he is the last surviving being of the whole mankind, so there is no future anyway.

It kind of brings to mind, the Donner party? Have you heard of that? The pioneers that got lost and resorted to-

O yeah! That one. I remember, and actually not the name, but that was also some inspiration for me to write the songs, I was also thinking about that. The people first start just eating the dead ones but soon after that they actually start killing eachother.

Panic and fear.


Well, there’s the songs, but also there were a few guest musicians on the album, can you tell us about them and the situation to include them?

Yeah, haha! Who did we have? Ah, Olli (Vänskä) was playing violin. And all I can say about his performance is that it was so natural. I don’t know if he rehearsed but he came to the studio, listened to every part once and played it right after flawless. It didn’t take much time. And other guests were some singers for the choirs. Mathias (Lillmåns) from Finntroll, Jaake from Crimfall and Janne who is our live guitar player was also in the choirs. Who else. Can’t remember!

Well in addition to musicans there were a lot of interesting sounds on the album, is that something you always think about when you are writing?

Yeah, As we say, it’s not only music. We’re trying to create a movie without picture.
Everything has its meaning.

On the subject of meanings, brings me to a question I ask a lot of Finnish Musicians. What does being Finnish mean to you?

Hmm! Everything and nothing! Finnish-ness is deeply rooted in my personality, and reflects everything I do. I don’t know, its probably made me a bit stubborn and a bit careful with other people, Americans like you might think its antisocial behavior but it’s really not. I’m a bit more reserved, and that’s how Finnish people are. I think we have an interesting past and I really admire the fact that the ancient people really used to coexist with nature. I really don’t admire the fact that modern Finnish people are just following the ways of consumerism.

And capitalism.


That actually kind of leads me to my next question, In your opinion why are people following more Pagan ways and ideals, and leaving these mainstream religions for a return to older ways?

I think it’s that we are at a turning point kind of. A lot of people are getting fed up with the ways of living that’s being taught to them. There are lot of people who are fed up with this whole life that is only built upon consuming. People want to find something more spiritual and people are also getting fed up with mainstream religions because they are starting g to understand that they are very restricting. A lot of people realize now that being the year 2011 we can explain almost everything around us, and we don’t need Gods for that purpose.

There is no mystery anymore.

Yes, there is no mystery anymore and people have to realize that God or Gods were only invented because people wanted to explain what is happening and I think in a way if human history were in any sense to be rational it was meant that the Gods are forsaken when science develops.

It makes some sort of sad sense! So far as Pagan metal, what would you say sets Moonsorrow apart from other bands in this genre?

Ah, the usual boring answer would be that we are not that happy. Of course we are
as people, but the music is just not. It’s a lot harder to I don’t know, dance. And it also could be a bit more challenging to listen to, it’s a bit more complex then most of the folk metal bands around. I’m not saying we are better, but we are clearly different. And we were just kind of put into the same category because back in the late 90’s there weren’t that many band anyways. No one talked about folk metal. There was Finntroll, Ensiferum and Moonsorrow. That was it at that time. And I guess people just want to see a connection, because there is a connection. But they want to label us, I don’t mind, but we are clearly not at all similar to Ensiferum for example.

Certainly not. What do you want people to take away from a Moonsorrow show, or album?

Merch! No but seriously, I hope people get a complete experience. Like sinking deep into the other world when they are listening to the songs and of course meet a lot of people who think alike. I hope- no I don’t even hope: I know no one will leave this hall disappointed.

That’s for sure! Well, I have to say kiitos for interviewing with us!