Never ones to shy away from marathon-length compositions, Finland's Moonsorrow really decided to tempt the gods of progressive rock excess with their fifth ambitious marriage of extreme metal and folk music, Chapter V: Ravaged, which is made up of just two mega-movements! As if this weren't challenging enough for most listeners (and typically of Moonsorrow) the entire, vast undertaking is alternately sung, screamed, or screeched entirely in Finnish -- one of this planet's rarest languages, typologically speaking. Thankfully, heavy metal fans are innately used to adversity, and, like so many adventure-starved Hobbits, are absolute suckers when it comes to embarking upon Tolkien-esque quests such as these. So saddle up your ponies, tuck away that ring of power where no wraith can see it, and get your furry feet on the road: before you is an epic journey. Chapter V's 30-minute first half, "Jäästä Syntynyt/Varjojen Virta," translates into "Born of Ice/Stream of Shadows" and begins via melancholy guitar melodies set to a backdrop of rumbling glacial activity. These gradually gain in layered complexity and metallic heaviness, exploring a series of giant riffs of varied intensity and tempo until circa the 16-minute mark, whereupon acoustic reverie is re-established, then semi-hokey accordions for that Finnish folk music flavor, then vicious black metal storm-blasts that culminate in intensity near the 21-minute mark and finally descend via a mid-paced denouement of stately, post-Bathory grandeur. Having completed the first half of Chapter V's mission unscathed, the fellowship must now face its second, "Tuleen Ajettu Maa" ("A Land Driven into the Fire"), which, at merely 26 minutes, may seem like a comparative afternoon stroll. No way. This time, its ominous tribal percussion sending us on our way but, after that, and with the exception of some alternate vocal choices, this second leg really doesn't add much to what came before; just different iterations of the same building blocks which are, if anything, even more indebted to Bathory's anthemic, '80s styled Viking metal. Don't let this curt appraisal turn you against Chapter V: Ravaged, though, because it does deliver exceptionally good extreme prog metal -- just not quite life-altering stuff. Still, one could do a lot worse than making it their chosen fantasy adventure for 2007.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia