There are two types of folk metal bands from Finland. There are the happy, booze and sword-swinging types that are half power metal at their core, and there is the ugly. These are the bands that don't look or sound pretty. I think Turisas is the only Finnish band that sounds pretty but looks kinda scary. But then you have the ones who crawl out of the forest in the dead of winter and rub you absolutely raw with their sound as well. Moonsorrow is such a band. To say their sound is bleak is a bit understated. It's bleak in the way a grey twilight in late November above the Arctic Circle is. On first appearance it looks empty and barren, a lifeless snowscape where nothing stirs but the wind, but on closer look, an entire ecosystem exists in this harsh climate, one that most people could never become accustomed to. It's not for the weak.

The music on Jumalten Aika, like their previous six albums, perfectly captures that experience in audio form. There's a lot of life here but you have to struggle to find it. The songs here are all very long and take a lot of time to unfold. Patience is required to fully appreciate and savor this collection of music, moreso on this than their prior releases. There isn't much that's changed musically, but it's not as catchy. You won't always get the reward you're hoping for when listening to this.

In fact, I had a hard time getting through it, because I felt like there was less warm blood coursing underneath the icy atmosphere. I don't want to say that's a bad thing, but maybe it's not quite my thing. As much as I do love that freezing cold feeling, eventually I want a cup of hot cocoa, and with Moonsorrow, there is no cocoa. There's just more cold.

Objectively speaking this is really good. It's another solid release for the Finnish pagans. However, it's not nearly as endearing or even somber as some of their earlier work, that slight lack of dimension makes this one a little harder for me to get into. It's a little more black than folk and there are a lot of great parts of these expansive and spiritual compositions, but it just doesn't hold me quite as much as Verisäkeet (2005) or Viides Luku – Hävitetty (2007). Still, they do pagan metal on their own terms, and it's up to the audience to meet them there. I've no doubt this will grow on me in time, or when my feelings better match the desolate moods that this record evokes.