After a mixup at Napalm Records and a two-week delay I finally got my copy of Moonsorrow’s new album “Jumalten Aika”. I was pretty happy that the release date of the vinyl was not pushed back due to problems at the pressing plant or record store day coming up. That’s actually quite rare for newer releases. Furthermore, Moonsorrow had some trouble too with a fake bandcamp site. (Still wondering if anyone caught that bastard). Nevertheless, after an apology and a nice surprise from Napalm Records I finally received this album last week and I was ready to do a review.

Quick Facts: 
Artist: Moonsorrow – official webpage
Album: Jumalten Aika
Version: 2LP, 180g black vinyl, gatefold – Discogs link
Label: Century Media
Found at: Napalm Records

Jumalten Aika is my third Moonsorrow album and my first on vinyl. After a memorable gig at Metalcamp 2011 (potato video with acceptable sound quality) I got a hold of the “Suden Uni” re-release and “Verisäkeet” on CD. I love how Moonsorrow is able to create such an unique sound without overdoing it. So when I heard about “Jumalten Aika” being released in April I pre-ordered instantly. The teaser was promising and the single “Suden Tunti” convinced me that the return to their black metal roots is more than just interesting. This release is a novum for Moonsorrow as well, as they finally managed to release a song so short that a music video could be made.

Quality and artwork:
I like the minimalistic approach of the release. White drawings on black and nothing else. The gatefold is ordinary cardboard with a mat finish. The gatefold sleeves are big enough to fit the records in their record sleeves in with ease. Sadly, once again this is a release with plain paper record sleeves. I hope that anti-static becomes the norm in the nearer future. There’s nothing to be said about the 180g black vinyl records – good overall quality. Just the spindle hole on the first record had some rough edges but still fit nicely. The amazing cover art was created by Nucleart Design (http://www.nucleart.org/) and somehow reminds me a lot of Thyrfings cover art for “Farsotstider“. The inside of the gatefold contains the lyrics in finnish while the english lyrics can be found on the extra sheet included. The back contains pictures of the half-buried band members with only their seemingly dead heads sticking out of the soil, and the track list. Without knowledge of how to count in runes (and if you are too lazy to look up the track order online) you may end up with the wrong side first on the second lp as the order is rather counterintuitive. It’s Top (side A), left (side B), right (side C) and bottom (side D). The CD is minimalistic black with just the prominently featured band logo and the album title and fits perfectly in the black/white minimalistic scheme. All in all a high quality release.

 

Sound quality:
The album was recorded at Finnvox, Sonic Pump Studios and In the Woods Studios. Finnvox has been in the business for over 50 years (starting in 1965) and has worked with great musicians through various genres. Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki was the recording home for metal bands like Finntroll, Firewind and pop bands like Sunrise Avenue in the past. Regarding “In the Woods Studios” I could not find any information on the internet so my it’s either a very small media production company in Miami, Florida, Moonsorrow actually recording some samples in the woods or a pretty unknown studio. The mastering process took place at Finnvox and was done by Mika Jussila. There are over 1500 releases he worked on his resumé and he even started with mastering vinyl records. So the hopes are high for this album sounding awesome on vinyl. Mixing was done by Ahti Kortelainen at Tico Tico Studios in Kemi, Finland. Kortelainen was involved in the production process of “Shadows of Past” the very first album of the legendary Sentenced or Impaled Nazarene’s “Ugra Karma”.

The sound quality of the album is unfortunately not in the top-tier I hoped for it to be. In this case my expectations were just too high. On some tracks the sound merges into a wall of sound, becomes tinny and the vocals are really hard to filter out. Some changes on the EQ fixed the problem for me though. Nevertheless, this is no 45rpm audiophile release in the tier of Deafheaven’s “New Bermuda” but a decent one on par with the recent”Jomsviking” release by Amon Amarth in terms of sound quality. There is no difference to the CD sound quality. The data on dr.loudness-war.info suggests that the CD release is pretty decent though. There is no data available for the vinyl release unfortunately. I am strongly considering buying a USB compatible turntable to measure the FDR of the vinyl I review myself. I’m just not sure what model to get.

The music:
I won’t say much about the music as there are more than one legal way to listen to the album. I love the  approach of getting back to the black metal roots and the overall darker tone of the album. This album is on the same level as the critically acclaimed “Verisäkeet” release. And with Ruttolehto and Suden Tunti I got two songs in my personal Metal masterpieces playlist.

Conclusion:
I was pretty stoked when the album was announced and with all the little treats, the release of a music video and in general how Moonsorrow kept their fans informed I had more than high hopes for the vinyl version of the album. Jumalten Aika is a solid release but just not met my high hopes for the sound quality (which is no way near to being bad by the way). I can wholeheartedly recommend this great album on vinyl to any fan of Moonsorrow and Pagan Metal in general.

Up next:
Time to release some Mass Darkness with a review of Ihsan’s new masterpiece “Arktis”

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