Metalcamp - 2011

Text: Fredrik Odervång & Laura Osella Odervång Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Imagine a small stage in the middle of the forest, darkness and a full moon. On stage you have a Finnish band that refers to their music as “epic heathen metal”, and spike it with folk influences and a flair for challenging their audience with extended, almost trance like journeys to parts and times unknown. Metalcamp’s second stage is definitely a perfect setting for a band like Moonsorrow. The only problem with it was that the area was too small for them. We had seen Alestorm on the same stage the day before, and it had been almost too crowded to be good. So after seeing Varg we decided to stay there and regretfully skip Kreator in order to get front row spots. It was a good decision, as already half an hour before the start of the show a large crowd had gathered to see Moonsorrow’s performance. We heard of several people who had wanted to see the show but had to leave because it was too crowded. Hopefully the organizers will take this to heart and remember it when they plan the running order next year. But standing front row, we were quite happy to see Moonsorrow on the 2nd stage as it has a much more intimate atmosphere.

A few minutes ahead of schedule the band’s melancholic intro music started. The band then entered the stage and the slow haunting intro riff of Tähtdetön resounded and immediately set the tone for the next 45 minutes.

Front man Ville Sorvali (lead vocals & bass) and both guitarists, Mitja Harvilahti and Janne Perttilä, started out with their backs turned to the crowd, treating us to some classic Moonsorrow poses in the dimmed blue stage light, before they turned around and tore into the meat of the first of only four songs. Tähtdetön is the opening track of their latest album Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa (Like Shadows we walk through the Land of the Dead), whose overlaying theme is a freezing death-ridden final walk of humanity. You might think these images are difficult to project at a 30 degrees, beach bar crazed summer festival, but they did it.

Kivenkantaja, from the album with the same title, followed. They had cut the acoustic intro out and went directly to the 5/8 signature riff that is also the base of the verse. This song was the most folk-oriented song of the night, and while Ville stuck to his slow epic posing, the guitarists took the opportunity to treat us to some nice duelling and face-to-face riffing. It became obvious there were a lot of devoted Moonsorrow fans in the audience as the crowd roared along every time the band reached the Kivenkantaja chant.

Then from the very first notes of the next song, it was easy to recognize Kylän Päässä, one of our personal favourites and probably one of the band’s hits. If you can speak of hits when you talk about Moonsorrow. Most of their songs are extremely long, varying from 7-8 minutes to half an hour. Kylän Päässä also meant a moment in the spotlight for Moonsorrow’s 'secret weapon', guitarist Janne Perttilä, who handles the lead vocals in the song’s middle eight part. He doesn’t take part on the albums, but probably plays at least 90% of their shows as replacement for Henri Sorvali (who has decided not to tour anymore). Both Ville and Mitja can be very hypnotic on stage, but Perttilä has an incredible stage presence, and has managed to blend in perfectly with the band. We have seen him with Moonsorrow onstage so many times now it almost feels strange to see Henri Sorvali on stage instead of him.

When Ville announced Kuolleiden Maa (The land of the dead), with the words “everything has to come to an end” we all knew it was the last song. We wouldn’t be able to find another song by any other band that could have been a better way to end the day and the festival. Kuolleiden Maa from their last album is about the end of the world, the death of all human beings. It’s such a beautiful, intense and sad song. Everybody was spellbound and we even saw a girl standing beside us dry a few tears. The final riff of Kuolleiden Maa is the same haunting one that begins the album (and this concert). I (Laura) love how the band leaves the stage one by one until only the drummer and Ville are left. It makes the hair on my arms raise every time.

When they had all left, the crowd fell silent for a couple of seconds, then everybody started shouting trying to get them back on stage. They all got back out to throw whatever they had to the fans, and in a funny moment the band had run out of picks and wristbands to give out, and Ville asked the crowd if they wanted his empty beer can. But eventually they even ran out of cans. Their time was over and sadly we had to leave and go spend our very last energies at the beach bar.


Kylän Päässä
Kuolleiden Maa

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