MOONSORROW were started in autumn 1995 by the Sorvali cousins Henri and Ville. After the release of two demos and an album back in 2000 entitled “Suden Uni”, they released their latest heathen-hearted opus “Voimasta Ja Kunniasta” on Spikefarm Records. This album was reason enough to contact Ville Seponpoika Sorvali, the vocalist and bass-player of Moonsorrow to get a more detailed picture of what MOONSORROW stands for. And I have not been disappointed
Heilsa Ville! How are you today?
"Heathen hails to you, Nhashi! It's a sunny day outside and I'm listening to "Hell Awaits" by SLAYER so I'm definitely fine, thank you."
Your second album is out for half a year now. All reviews I got to know on "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta" were very positive. What kind of reactions did you expect when you had finished the album? Are you still satisfied with the album or is there something you would have changed?
"We could never have expected such a positive response for "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta", that's for sure. "Suden Uni" was much more straight-forward in all aspects, and we were afraid if our audience would have a hard time accepting such an epic and progressive album as "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta" is. However people seem to appreciate what we've done, and that is good because we appreciate it ourselves. Of course there are bits and pieces on "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta" for all of us that are not entirely satisfying, but then again, what would there be left to be done after a perfect album?"
Whose ideas were the photos in the CD?
"The idea was collectively processed within the band - we wanted to bring the concept of the whole album to the uttermost perfection."
I am simply asking because in my opinion these pictures look rather dull and are the only negative point on your release. Have not too many people used an overdose of artificial blood? I personally think your pictures would fit better to a Hollywood movie than to a pagan album, but I think you will not agree?
"This is your opinion and I respect that, but one thing is for sure - we have never used artificial blood. If Braveheart fits your conception of an ordinary Hollywood movie, then yes, those pictures would fit better to a Hollywood-movie. Those pictures are at the culmination point of Metal clichés and so be it."
Your first album was released on Plasmatica Records, a rather small label. How do you look upon your first album "Suden Uni", the contract with aforementioned label and the work it has done for you?
"Suden Uni" was recorded in an 'inexperienced' phase, so to speak. We had just taken a step towards the live sound of MOONSORROW with Baron Tarwonen and it seemed so fluent to write and rehearse for the album. It is far from perfect, but I like it as it is.The contract with Plasmatica was good on paper, but it did not work out - let me say that their resources did not quite meet our demands. It was an educative experience, and I'm not of the kind who would not be thankful for that."
Before you had released two demos - "Metsä" and "Tämä Ikuinen Talvi" - the latter one to be re-released by Tommi Launonen (Sagittarius Prod.) last year. As they led to your first contract they seem to have fulfilled what they were supposed to. What were your main influences when you started? Besides, you recorded two promos (one of them entitled "Thorns Of Ice") that were never officially released - why? What is your opinion on the demos today? Whose idea was it to re-release "Tämä Ikuinen Talvi" on CD - yours or Tommi´s? Why did you re-record it partly? Are you satisfied with the way the re-release turned out? Will there be a chance to get hands on the other recordings that have not been released yet? (Hey Nhashi - take a deep breath before you go on, hahaha - Frank)
"When we started with MOONSORROW, our main influences were supposedly ENSLAVED, EMPEROR and BATHORY. We just wanted to create music to support our pagan views and we did what we were able of. I am proud of the demos because they were the first milestones on the path of MOONSORROW. To be honest, I even like them.The re-release of "Tämä Ikuinen Talvi" was an idea of Sagittarius Productions. They actually wanted to release the demo ever since it was recorded, but they did not approach us with an offer until 2001. By then we had already decided that we should make some improvements to the original recording, because our level of dissatisfaction on the vocals and on the mix was just too high. The re-recording lead to better results, which is quite natural because time had elapsed. The two missing demos were not released mainly because of major technologic fuck-ups. The mastering process erased the other half of "Thorns Of Ice" and the mix ruined the sound on the promo. There is simply no chance of getting hold of the erased material on "Thorns Of Ice", and we have not planned to release the preserved material either. It would be a hoax."
When can we expect the next release? Will it be another album on Spikefarm? Do you think it has been a good choice to change the label between the first and second album?
"And once again we will head to the almighty Tico Tico Studio, this time in November, so expect the third MOONSORROW album in early 2003 or so. We just extended our contract with Spikefarm, so they will also be found behind that release. Switching to them in the first place was nothing but a good choice."
I know that you have played a few gigs in Finland? Is there a chance to see you live one day in Germany and the rest of Europe? Do you actually enjoy to play live or is it rather a "necessary evil" in your opinion?
"So far we have played only 10 gigs, and all of them inside the borders of Finland. I'd like to say there will be a chance to see us live abroad, but at the moment I can't make a promise. Touring depends solely on our booking agency and local promoters and so far no one out there has been interested to invest in our performance. To answer the second part of the question, yes, we do enjoy playing live. We wouldn't do it for so little money if we didn't."
So is there anything special one can expect when attending at one of your shows? Your live-pics on the homepage looked quite bloody, so to say. Anything special?
"There's nothing really 'special' on our live shows, because anything 'special' would require a much bigger budget than what we possess. We just play louder than hell and bang our heads covered with blood. I dare say we are an intense live band, and I hope no one leaves our gig disappointed."
You are responsible for all the lyrics. When did you first get interested in pagan stuff and northern mythology? Does this interest have an influence on your everyday-life? Are all members of MOONSORROW pagan or is it merely a personal thing for you and a good-selling point as an image for the rest of the band?
"I have been interested in myths and legends since a child, and my interest was fully sparked in the age of 16 or so. I guess I can also say that I have always been a heathen, because I have never felt like turning into one, but incidentally I did not dig deeper into the ideology until around the time we started with MOONSORROW. Naturally my beliefs and interests are present in my everyday life - I live according to what I am. I won't talk on behalf of the other members of MOONSORROW, because I would likely say something that is to be corrected. Let me just say that there are NO selling points within MOONSORROW."
So if this question is not too private, I'd like to know what direct influence it has in your everyday-life.
"No, the question is not too private, but it's hard to answer it nonetheless. Perhaps it has to do with the way I am perceived by the outside world, but more than that it has to do with the way I perceive the outside world. My beliefs are personal - I will share my views with people who are interested, but I will not try to turn anyone's head. Moreover I don't consider it too important to wear symbols or to perform sacrifices, if not of sheer reverence, for the gods are well aware of those who follow their path."
Is there a special concept on "Voimasta Ju Kunniasta"? If so, please explain it to us.
"The lyrics on "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta" form a story. There are various viewpoints to observe it from, but the overall starting point is the concept of a brave warrior. In the beginning he returns home after a long journey, and in the end we attend his funeral. The songs themselves deal with the turning points in his life and in the life of his treacherous brother, portraying simple values and emotions in human life. The intention is to take the listener on this journey with us and send his / her imagination a thousand years back in time."
So the main intention is to tell a story that can be followed by the listener and give him a good hour to leave behind his allday-problems but not to teach anything?
"I wouldn't say quite so. The main goal is to entertain, but besides entertainment there is also content in the story. I only guide people to think about it and leave the rest up to them."
Please define the words "strength" and "honour".
"Strength: Quality of being strong before difficult decisions and conflicts. Ability of protecting oneself and other people. The foundation of leadership. Honour: Good personal character or reputation. Quality of acting according to certain values (a code of honour) and not selling those values at any cost. Ability not to falter in defeat. Being true to oneself and other people."
I don't know why but for me MOONSORROW sound real - unlike bands like ENSIFERUM for example who are too much into party-stuff in my opinion. Why do you think this is so? Am I wrong if I attest MOONSORROW a kind of national-romantic approach? How important is your origin for you?
"Thank you for saying those words. If MOONSORROW sounds real, that is because MOONSORROW is real - we have never tried to be anything we are not. We know what we represent and we are honest with it, that's all. Our approach is certainly national romantic. I am proud of my Finnish roots to the extent of fennomania, so yes, my origin plays an important role in my whole being."
Could you imagine to live somewhere else than in Finland then?
"I could imagine that, but that doesn't mean I would wish it to happen. From all the places I have visited, Finland remains the dearest for me."
Have you ever faced problems with your reference to the pagan past? In Germany you are allegedly accused of being "nazi" rather fast if you tend to have interests in those subjects. The use of the "S"-rune (like you did for MOONSORROW ) in a logo would even fasten that process.
"Of course there are always people accusing us to be nazis, but what can you say? People are stupid. (Doubtless!!!!! – Nhashi) We are national romantic heathen souls, and there is no room for national socialism in our hearts. People always seem to forget (or not to know) that it was nazis who draw those parallels and that real paganism has never had anything to do with such bullshit. It is a shame upon all heathen brothers and sisters that nazis once adopted and shaped pagan ideology for their own purposes."
In the sixth song 'Sankaritarina' you quote Havamal 75/76. How important is the Edda actually for the Finish mythology? Correct me if I am wrong - but as far as I know the importance of the Edda sinks dramatically the further east one comes in Scandinavia? Finish actually does neither belong to the Indo-German language nor to the cultural group.
"The importance of Edda in the Finnish mythology can be discussed after forever, if you insist, because there are fewer documents of the belief systems in prehistoric Finland than of Scandinavian ones. The general understanding of the whole matter is that there were (at least) four different mythological foundations in Finland during the iron age: the Karelian religion in the east, Asatrú (the "viking religion") along the coast, the Tavastian religion in inner Finland and the Samic religion up north. The three first together form the basis of my own belief system. And to set one thing straight - I had no obligations to quote anything, it just happened that those verses fit the concept of "Sankaritarina" perfectly."
Is there a kind of reviving the heathenish way of life in Finland? In many areas people tend to discover their roots to get a way of life beyond that superficial and American way that most people lead nowadays. Are you involved in anything like this? What is your opinion on this movement anyway? Can heathenism / paganism offer anything to the civilised human in the 21st century?
There are some more or less organized pagan movements in Finland, but because of my individual ideological foundation, I am not a part of any of them. I appreciate the aims of these movements as long as they concentrate on the essential, and I am happy for each person who discovers his / her roots and forsakes the plastic culture of our time. I believe that paganism would deliver freedom for the "civilised human", but the "civilised human" is not ready to accept that."
Is there actually a need for organized pagan movements? I mean one of the main critics of the Easter religions is of course the fact that they do not support any form of individualism. Your boundaries to earth and nature are on the other hand something very individual.
"I wouldn't say there's a need for any organizations by means of practising pagan religions, but they are of course valuable when we want their message to reach more people. I do not support any kind of converting, but people must be told about alternatives for their religion before they can make a decent choice. Paganism is individual for everyone who understands what it is about."
Finland has since the birth of the extreme Metal-scene always had some outstanding bands - just to mention BEHERIT as the gods of all time or bands like DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED etc. - and there have always been bands that were different to many other bands. Among my last discoveries were WYRD, AJATTARA or CLANDESTINE BLAZE. Please let me know your opinion about those bands. What do you think is the reason that, although all bands did not invent a new genre of course, it seems that Finish bands are more innovative than bands from other (European) countries? Was it maybe the influence of Finland itself in this case? Is one of the reasons that Finland lies at the periphery of Europa and therefore trends etc. do not reach Finland as fast as the European mainland? Are there any bands you would advise us to have an eye on or two? (Nhashi!!!! It seems you couldn't stop yourself once more, huh?! - Frank)
"I have been asked to speculate the influential environment of Finland a thousand times, and I still haven't found the ultimate truth about it. Perhaps it is that Finnish bands are particularly innovative, and if it is, the reason must be in the surroundings - be it history, location or whatever. Of the bands that you listed BEHERIT stands for innovation and AJATTARA for rediscovery. They both rock. DARKWOODS MY BETROTHED and CLANDESTINE BLAZE have their moments, and I reckon never actually hearing WYRD. I would advise you to have an eye on MOTHER DEPTH, THE SINKAGE and KHARADRAI."
WYRD are a Finnish band from Hyvinkää and have yet released two demos and a CD entitled “Heathen”. As far as I know this is the band of one guy from AZAGHAL and HIN ONDE. Most Finish people seem to be involved in more than one band. Is this true for the MOONSORROW-members as well?
"The AZAGHAL-fellows are the extreme example of the inbred Finnish Metal scene. Many people around are involved in more than one band, but none in so many as them, I believe. It is true that the musical involvement of any of us does not limit to MOONSORROW, but only on rare occasion that has made us even discuss of priorities."
Something completely different. When I gathered information for the interview I read that DARKTHRONE and IRON MAIDEN are among your favourite bands. As IRON MAIDEN and MOONBLOOD are my fave bands of all time, I wonder which is your favourite MAIDEN-album? Have you had the chance to see them on stage?
"My favourite MAIDEN-album must be "Somewhere In Time", but "Brave New World" and "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" finish threateningly close. Unfortunately I have never seen IRON MAIDEN on stage; I had the opportunity twice, but managed to miss it. I promise I will correct the situation the next time they come over to Finland! Although you didn't ask about DARKTHRONE, I haven't been interested in their comings and goings since "Total Death"." (Which might be a mistake in the case of “Ravishing Grimness” but beside the albums from “A Blaze …” until “Panzerfaust” mark Darkthrone's golden era for sure. – NHASHI)
Thanks again for your time and your patience. Any wise heathen-hearted words for our readers?
"Thank you for this interview, it was truly a pleasure to travel through these questions. Hereby I pledge to "Voices From The Darkside" and proudly I say: Follow to wherever your hearts lead you and together we will raise our swords for a new pagan age to come!"
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