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.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Metalist / April 2016


The new Moonsorrow album ‘Jumalten Aika‘ has finally been released after a lengthy 5 year wait. The band have produced yet another stunning opus, but we interview frontman Ville Sorvali to find out what took so damn long!
With a back-catalogue of albums that have frequently been acclaimed from metalheads on all ends of the subgenre spectrum, it’s of key interest to find out what exactly goes into the writing process, especially with the lengthy songs that Moonsorrow writes. Ville enlightens us into all the details of the band’s songwriting, and conceptualising ‘Jumalten Aika
Read the transcript from the interview below:

So Ville thank you so much for speaking to us today!
Thank you for the invitation!

So new Moonsorrow album – I guess the first question we have to ask is how come it took so long to come out?
Well…to be perfectly honest…maybe not half way through but we wrote some material…it wasn’t in the vein that we wanted. So we had to start all over again after 2 years of work. That’s why it took time.

Yea…about 5 years. I think that’s the longest gap you’ve had in between albums.
Yea it actually is. It was 2011 when the last one came out, so yea…5 years!

So you’ve actually been writing the album over that 5 years or was there a certain period where you started writing?
Well we had to decide on the direction that we wanted to take the album in. It took a while, maybe even about 2 years to think about it…you could say we wasted a couple of years
It’s not wasting if it’s sounding good though! So could you speak a bit more about the direction of the new album then?
Well, when we finally got all the pieces together, our idea was to make an album that had songs stand out as themselves. So that they don’t necessarily have to be part of the album as we had done previously. Of course I would advise everybody to listen to the album from the beginning to the end, but these songs you can actually take out and enjoy them as, you know, songs.
I think that was the main aim behind it. We wanted to make something in our books, as Moonsorrow, could even be considered rock ‘n’ roll.

It sounds like there is also a concept behind the music though? The name ‘Jumalten Aika’ or ‘Age of the Gods’ sort of speaks like it is…
You actually pronounced the Finnish title perfectly! 

Oh! [laughs] Thank you very much. I try! So what was the concept of the album?
We wanted to build it around myths, but take a different approach. Instead of retelling them we made our own interpretations and our own stories loosely based on these myths. More we were being inspired by them than basing a concept around them.
The general concept, based around the title track, is when the gods first created the humans, the humans developed the ability to sing songs and write and they wrote about their creators, and that they actually created the gods themselves in that process.

That’s very cool. Now when we talk about the music of the album, which is brilliant by the way, it sounds like there are more folky influences in this album though compared to the last one…was that something you wanted to put back into the music?
First of all, thank you! Second…yes. I think we deliberately wanted to put more folk music and influences into the music, as that was always an important part of Moonsorrow, and how the band was born. We just did it differently this time in the sense that we really wanted to go deep back in time and do something that’s very stripped down and primitive.

But you wouldn’t call yourself a folk metal band?
Well…we never called ourselves a folk metal band. It was just labelled. At some point we wanted to get away from that. We’ve done different albums that have been very different from each other. The general public has labelled us as folk metal, there’s not much we can do about that, but we prefer the vague term of pagan metal. It’s more about the overall theme than any musical directions.

The next question I wanted to ask is that Moonsorrow have always written songs that are really long, like 15 or 16 minutes, especially on the new album. When you write these tracks does it come out naturally that long?
They shape. We start writing and at some point when we realise we’ve got 7 minutes worth of material and we still feel the song isn’t ready, it hasn’t told it’s story. So we just keep writing until the song itself tells us it’s complete. It sounds kind of like the song would be spiritually controlled, I would and wouldn’t put it that way, but the songs kind of take their own shape!

So there’s no forcing length or anything just because that’s considered ‘Moonsorrow’?
No. Actually on this album we wanted to keep the songs as short as possible! [laughs] We didn’t lengthen them, we did the opposite!

So you could have had a song ending up like 30 min long?
Yea! I think a 30 min song would have been boring!

[laughs] Cool. Just to look at the album art quickly, it’s pretty cool. It’s kind of different to the other Moonsorrow albums though…is that in line with the albums theme?
Yea. It connects to the theme through ‘the world tree’ that is drawn on the cover. That’s kind of the general rule for all that mythology that we are singing about. All the Nordic stuff. That’s one of the main symbols. It’s a very dark version of it that’s on our cover with the dead people hanging on it…it fits with the overall darkness of the album and of the lyrical concept.

I was going to say when I first listened to the album it was very dark…maybe the darkest Moonsorrow have ever done…
I don’t know…the previous album was very dark…but it was dark in a different way. I would say that this one is much rawer. It has a lot of raw, untamed energy. It’s not meant to be completely dark, it’s just meant to be kind of wild.

Yes that’s probably the right way to say it, raw! Being raw it gives it more of a sharper edge?
Yea. A sharper edge definitely. Well actually I’m going to take that back a bit. I said it wasn’t meant to be dark. Of course it was, but not only dark.

Yea, it does have lots of different things in it!
Exactly, not like the previous album that was only meant to be dark, and dark only. It was about the time after the end of the world, and the music was crushingly dark, and we didn’t want to repeat that. We wanted to have darkness in a different way.

You’ve also always written your songs in the Finnish language too, when you started out did you plan to write all your lyrics in Finnish?
It was such a long time ago I don’t actually remember…but since the beginning we just wrote in Finnish, and it became such an important part of our music that we just couldn’t do it differently. Of course people have been asking all the time if it could be considered that we might have a broader audience if we had English lyrics, but we just say that we don’t care!

Of course! Lots of metal bands are singing in their native languages these days and are quite popular, including lots of bands from Finland! Like Korpiklaani, who you’re touring with in April, sing in Finnish as well.
Yea. Actually the bands that inspired us, even before when we founded the band, were Norwegian black metal bands, and quite a few of those only did stuff in Norwegian. We never felt it was weird. We thought it was really interesting and exciting!

So you guys are going to be touring for the rest of the year after the album’s release?
We’re going to be touring for the next month. I am not sure about the rest of the year. Well we do have summer festivals and such, but I’m not sure after that. We have some rough plans for the autumn but obviously I can’t reveal them yet!

But you’re doing a tour of Europe with Korpiklaani.
Yes! With a surprising number of UK dates! We’ve been waiting for this for quite long!

Well we’ve been waiting for it too! I actually can’t remember the last time you guys played in the UK…
Must have been many years ago…

I think it was Paganfest 2008…
No, no! Sorry we did play in York last year! But apart from that it must have been 2008 or something.

Yea…for people in London like us we’ve been waiting a long time to see you guys live again! It’s exciting! I think it’s quite funny also that you guys are releasing the album April 1st, April Fools Day. Was that chosen on purpose?
Well it’s actually highly ironic, because in the band we were constantly joking…’oh is it [the album release] actually going to happen!’. It was such a long break, but now it’s the 1st April, and it happened because it’s a Friday, and you know that’s the release day.

So it’s just a major coincidence?
Yes it is!

Ville thank you so much for speaking to us today and look forward to the tour!
Thank you too, nice chatting with you and see you in London!

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