The group's earliest formation consisted of cousins Ville Sorvali (vocals and bass) and Henri Sorvali (guitar and keyboards; also keyboards for Finntroll, Barathrum, and session member of Ensiferum) who released various demos that were much more characteristic of melodic black metal than future releases.Their debut album, Suden Uni
, recorded in early 2000, was released in 2001, along with Tämä Ikuinen Talvi
("This Everlasting Winter"), a re-release of a 1999 demo. Suden Uni
("A Wolf's Dream") combined Finnish paganism and folk elements. After recruiting Mitja Harvilahti and Markus Eurén, Moonsorrow started playing live, releasing Voimasta Ja Kunniasta
("Of Strength and Honour") in late 2001. However, the real takeoff for the band is generally held to be their 2003 release, Kivenkantaja
("Stonebearer"). In 2005 the band followed it up with their fourth full-length album, Verisäkeet
("Blood Verses"). The album also their first to use ambient sounds such as birdsong and crackling fire in between tracks.In January 2006 the band played their first US show at the Heathen Crusade Metalfest in Columbia Heights, MN. On March 7, 2006, Moonsorrow announced a 2-album contract with Spinefarm Records, and that their next album was slated for release in late 2006. On June 19 it was revealed that the upcoming album would feature guest vocals by Thomas Väänänen, the former vocalist of Thyrfing; Viides Luku - Hävitetty
("Chapter five - Ravaged") was released in January 2007. The album contained only two tracks and displayed more overt influence from progressive rock.An EP called Tulimyrsky
was released in 2008. The EP is over one hour long and contains one new song (the title track), two remakes of old songs, and two cover songs. It was released worldwide by Spinefarm Records, and in May the German label Drakkar Entertainment released it in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.In Fall 2010, Moonsorrow entered the studio to record their sixth full-length studio album, Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa
("As Shadows We Walk In The Land of The Dead"). The album was released on February 21, 2011 through Spinefarm Records.In April of 2012 Moonsorrow announced on their official website that they have signed a deal with Century Media Records. The band commented: "We are thrilled to start working with Century Media, a label that is home to many fellow artists already! We never make our music half way or with compromises and we know our art is in good hands with people who have the same mentality in running a record label. Now, after a year since the release of our last album we are ready to begin creating something new. The new chapter in this epic journey of Moonsorrow!"In June 2013, the band announced a vinyl box set of its collected works to be released through Blood Music. At a projected 13 LPs, it is being advertised as the largest metal box set in history.
Moonsorrow's lyrics draw inspiration from Finnish mythology, legends and poetry; since Tämä Ikuinen Talvi
they have been written exclusively in Finnish. For instance, the song "Sankaritarina" from Voimasta Ja Kunniasta
features lyrics directly translated from Hávamál.
In April 2008, Moonsorrow and other performers on the folk metal festival Paganfest were accused of being Nazis, racists, and fascists from the German Antifa and BIFF (Berliner Institut für Faschismusforschung, which freely translates to "Berlin Institute for Studies on Fascism" — actually a one-man "registered association" by psychologist Peter Kratz). Ville Sorvali of Moonsorrow and Heri Joensen of Týr issued a joint video statement to refute these accusations, noting that the bands are in no way connected to fascist groups and actually are against fascism. Guitarist Mitja Harvilahti told the German Feindesland
webzine that the band has nothing to do with fascism, and Mitja personally "strongly despises racists and Nazis."