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Moonsorrow are probably my favorite band of the new millennium era of metal bands. These guys play a folk metal/black metal/pagan metal. It's kinda hard to nail them down....I like to call them heathen/nature metal due to their lyrics. And speaking of lyrics, thankfully they translate all of their lyrics because they sing in Finnish, their native tongue. They have six full lengths, four demos and an EP to date. This is Suden Uni, their debut full length released in February of 2001. I first heard this band some time right after their third full length was released in 2003 and I immediately became a fan. This band is epic as fuck and the talent that is displayed by these guys is undeniable. Their mix of folk and metal is stunning and this album is a fine example of the best of this sub genre of metal that seemed to grow very large during the previous decade.
The album kicks off with "Ukkosenjumalan Poika" ("Son of the God of Thunder" if your Finnish is rusty) and the riffs begin with bombastic drums and epic keys. The songwriting here is just amazing with the keyboards providing a symphonic atmosphere that can take you away but without overpowering the guitars. The guitars are done with riffs and huge chords to pummel you. The vocals are of a black metal nature that sound painful and maybe angry at times but full of emotion. This is the quintessential album opener that leads right into the opening riff of the second song, "Köyliönjärven jäällä (Pakanavedet II") ("On the Ice of Köyliönjärvi (Pagan Waters II"). Along with the epic riffs of this song the keys are right in there...then what the fuck? Accordion? Yes, it is and this is one of those things that make this band so special. But along with accordions and even mouth harps is this massive wall of guitars, electric and acoustic, giving this song even more depth. There are some clean vocals here and there that sound like male choirs.
This band writes long songs and on this album the longer songs range between six and eleven minutes in length with two instrumentals that are not as long. Given their length, these songs never get boring or get cumbersome. They flow along and keep you interested...because they can write good songs. The songs are intricate without becoming pretentious. "Kuin ikuinen" ("As Eternal") is a fine example with many tempo changes and riff changes that keep you listening, even the sound of an epic battle is included. How can you not love this band? Once again, the keys give this even more depth and an epic feeling. "Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti" ("Home of the Wind, Home of the Waves") is an absolute beautiful instrumental that starts with the sound of the ocean and acoustic guitars for the intro going into bombastic guitars and keyboards making you feel like you are there. There's a faint flute playing in there as well. The song builds with guitars (acoustic and electric), keys, accordions and that faint flute. That shit gives me goose bumps! More proof that this is one of the finest bands in metal and above that, something very special.
Now "1065: Aika" ("1065: Time") has to be given mention just due to it's complexity and epic sound. This is the longest song on the album clocking in at eleven minutes. It begins with the sound of wind, some keyboards and some far off acoustic guitars very softly slowly getting louder that builds up to these massive guitar riffs and vocal screams. Then this builds up with epic guitars and keys with some clean vocals as well as some black metal screams all leading to a crescendo of clean vocal choirs. Here's them goddamn goosebumps again! Look, if you don't get goosebumps from this, check your pulse because you may be DEAD! No other band has made me feel this way about their music. Pop the CD on, get your headphones on, lay back and go on a journey that takes you to the forest, then to epic battle scenes, and then to the sea. There is no other band like this, anywhere!
The two years between 2001 and 2003 saw the release of two brilliant folk metal releases by the Finnish folk metal band Moonsorrow, Voimasta ja kunniasta and Kivenkantaja. Both albums are widely respected as classic pagan/folk metal releases, and with good reason. The albums are noted for their superb musicianship and innovative writing that combined fun folk melodies with melodic black metal, crafting memorable songs that earned Moonsorrow their much-deserved status of being one of the leading Nordic folk metal outfits active today. With the massive amount of attention Voimasta ja kunniasta and Kivenkantaja have received, one tends to forget that Moonsorrow had one other full-length release in the two year timespan mentioned at the outset. The forgotten album is their 2001 debut, Suden uni. The music presented on the debut is very much in the same vein as its immediate successors, combining Finnish folk melodies and instrumentation (performed through the use of keyboards) with harsh melodic black metal. While the album’s songwriting and musicianship pale in comparison to future works, Suden uni is still a strong release that should not be overlooked.
Suden uni translates to “A Wolf’s Dream”, and the album appropriately begins with a sample of a howling wolf. This is the first of many samples typical of the folk metal genre featured on the album, which also includes rushing winds, breaking waves, and a recording of a Viking battle sequence complete with the clash of swords and the shouts of warriors. While the use of these samples may seem cliché, the band surprisingly manages to use them in a rather tasteful manner. The samples are used sparingly and have the effect of enhancing the music rather than distracting from it. In the case of the battle sequence, which is featured on the track “Kuin ikuinen”, the sample is backed by folky acoustic guitar and percussion that fit the atmosphere of the song perfectly.
There are two distinct sides to Moonsorrow’s music demonstrated on Suden uni. Some tracks, like opener “Ukkosenjumalan poika”, emphasize the black metal elements of their sound, resulting in strong melodic black metal backed by symphonic keyboards. While this is the only track that completely lacks folk melodies and instrumentation, several of the other songs on the album have segments in which the band suspends the folk influence to emphasize the black metal aspect of their sound. This is notable during the middle and concluding sections of “Kuin ikuinen”. The rest of the material on the album, which constitutes its majority, heavily emphasizes the band’s folk influences. The heavy reliance on instrumentation featuring the accordion, prominent on multiple tracks, gives Suden uni a unique place in the Moonsorrow discography, with later albums greatly reducing the instrument’s usage or leaving it absent altogether. “Pakanajuhla”, arguably the album’s best track, makes extensive use of accordion, basing its first main segment on a folk melody performed on the instrument. The song is notable for another reason, as it serves as a prelude to the complex song structures that would be featured extensively on later albums. The song is divided into four distinct sections, each having separate melodies and instrumentation. The song evolves from an accordion-based midtempo gallop into a fast-paced bit featuring handclaps and shouted vocals. The song also features a lengthy acoustic segment and a heavily atmospheric outro, making it the most creative and effective piece on the album.
While Suden uni as a whole is a very strong record, it does have some significant issues. The album’s biggest detriment by far is its poor mixing of the vocals. While the album’s production on the whole is excellent, with the folk instrumentation being combined very well with the metal elements, all of the album’s vocals are buried deep in the mix and are difficult to hear. This is a shame, as both Ville and Henri Sorvali have excellent voices. Ville’s black metal shriek is just as powerful on Suden uni as it is on later albums, and Henri provides well-performed clean vocals that compliment his cousin’s harsh vocals very well on several tracks. Several tracks also feature interesting clean choir vocals, but it is difficult to appreciate the depth and skill of the performance due to its unfortunate mixing. Another negative aspect of the album is its lengthy closer, the 11-minute “1065: Aika”. The song builds up for nearly four minutes before taking off, and once it does it never really goes anywhere. There are some interesting snare drum rolls and folk-influenced clean vocals featured on the track, but overall the song provides a dull ending to an otherwise great album.
One final point that must be made about this album is that at this point in the band’s career it is clear that Moonsorrow was still having a great deal of fun with their music. While the albums of the band’s later career, notably Verisäkeet and Viides Luku – Hävitetty, are excellent albums in their own right, they are stand out as very serious works. This is certainly the result of the band’s natural maturation and change in musical direction over time, but nevertheless Suden uni has a certain charm to it that is absent on later albums. This fun approach to folk metal is best noted on “Pakanjuhla”, but the album’s bonus track, featured on its 2003 reissue, also deserves mention. The track, titled “Tulkaapa Äijät”, is unlike anything else in the Moonsorrow discography and is almost guaranteed to elicit a smile on first listen. All in all, while it certainly has its negative aspects, Suden uni is a great release that stands as the first in the line of many fantastic albums by a quintessential act in the Finnish folk metal scene.
The first official full-length of Moonsorrow opened a new path into the deep untrodden snow of Nordic folk metal. It was the first item in the series that spanned from Suden Uni to either Kivenkantaja or Verisäkeet, depending on the angle of view, and the later, heavier stylistic changes only took place on V: Hävitetty, the album that turned Moonsorrow onto a new path. On that new path, atmosphere comes before the folk elements, and some of the joyous, epic qualities of the four full-lengths before that were replaced by darker ideas and perhaps more passive-aggressive melancholic sceneries. But here, on Suden uni, they discovered something wonderful, and were to sharpen this particular sword to extreme sharpness on the following three albums.
Before Suden uni, folk metal had already turned into its stereotypical self, the ridiculous and mostly artificial mead-chugging, folk-dancing, drinking horn infested booze-fueled pseudo-Viking humppa-fest with a bunch of traditional instruments being raped on top of mediocre guitarwork and a rhythm section that could be performed by average professional musicians even when dead drunk. Yes, there were exceptions: Skyclad was doing its own, excellent brand of music, and the "pagan" scene had been born earlier, but the merry stomping had the front of the stage, and the repercussions can still be felt in the opinions of a lot of people.
What Suden uni did differently was stealthy and cunning, but bold and unapologizing at the same time. Moonsorrow was still essentially a black metal band on their last demo, Tämä ikuinen talvi, but they managed to build a new kind of wonderful combination on the album that followed. They down-toned the black metal, replaced some of it with almost disturbingly catchy folk tunes, added instrumentation that adds to the folkish atmosphere, and still managed to avoid becoming drunkenly merry folk bullshit. A large part of that was buried in the subject matter, and will remain entombed there for a huge fraction of their fans for eternity, hidden behind a language barrier that might turn out to be impenetrable even to most of those who go far enough to make an effort at learning Finnish.
What they unearthed was the cache of Finnish folk tradition, and they put it to good use. As a prime example, "Köyliönjärven jäällä" recounts the ancient tale of the first, most likely apocryphal, bishop of Finland, instated by the Swedes after their "crusades" to christianize the pagans here by force and sword. The tale, in its original form, describes Lalli, a rich farmer, and, incidentally, the first Finn with a name in the history books, as a bad-tempered trouble-maker, and his subsequent axe murder of bishop Henrik on the ice of Lake Köyliö, as an atrocity for which Lalli paid dearly. Moonsorrow's idea of the same story is reversed: they see Lalli's deadly attack as one of the last defiant acts against the invasion of the followers of the cross, and the man as a misunderstood hero, painted black by the history written by the eventual winners of the struggle.
Even if the rest of the album's songs take a bit more effort to transcribe to historical terms, the point is always the same: yearning for the pagan times, but not in the Vikernesian way. No, there's more epic, desperate fighting against the inevitable christian "civilization", the flood of outside influence brought by men with swords and crosses, and the eventual downfall of the old world of the endless woods and pagan honour. It is a world that has never been described in the history books, with only a few scattered mentions in ancient Roman and later manuscripts. Even the archaeological record is lacking, and the times before the Swedes established their bridgeheads on the west coast and built their first castles are largely open to imagination at least as much as described by factual information, and offer endless possibilities for tales. The national epic, Kalevala, is the sole source to tap to get inside the literally pre-historic minds of ancient Finns. The Vikings never established themselves in Finland, despite allegedly finding America and possibly crossing the equator on their voyages, and it's tempting to paint a picture of a forgotten people that managed to be hardened enough to withstand half a millennium of onslaught by the most feared Nordic warriors in recorded history. And all that, in a peculiar way, translates into the music, giving it an epic edge that transcends the mentioned language barrier, and colours virtually everything with a heroic tint.
The music itself consists of folkish tunes crafted onto a solidly metal foundation. The tunes themselves and the riffs behind them are infective beyond reason: they stick to the mind and haunt the listener for days, but unlike such all-time favorites as "Pop Corn" or "Mr Softee Theme", they never drive the human tape recorder crazy after 12 hours. No, even after a full day, they still have a freshness to them, and the songs are more or less a pleasure to hum along long after the album ends. The band also managed to come up with some of their trademark epic choruses, and those would propagate heavily before the run of the formula was to end.
There is virtually nothing of the black metal found on Tämä ikuinen talvi demo left, and it would take half a decade before that particular brand of metal would make a comeback to the mix somewhere between Verisäkeet and V: Hävitetty.
This recipe was destined to be repeated, built on, and polished on Voimasta ja kunniasta and Kivenkantaja, and it lingered on in gradually smaller doses, all the way until Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa finally turned Moonsorrow onto a different track. The formula is a catchy beast, and it's little to be surprised at that it carried the band well into some moderate international fame. That fame was achieved with music written in Finnish, of all languages, and that is something to be surprised about.
Let’s journey back into the year 2001, when the acclaimed Finnish pagan metal-band Moonsorrow was relatively young. In that year they released not only their debut Suden uni, but also their sophomore album, Voimasta ja kunniasta. Now I’m going to concentrate on Suden uni, which began Moonsorrow’s great rise among the mighty of pagan metal. On Suden uni, they established the epic folk-sound, which would culminate on Kivenkantaja two years later before gradually changing back towards black metal.
Musically Suden uni is mostly (melodic) black metal supported with very strong folk-elements. When comparing it to Voimasta ja kunniasta and Kivenkantaja, the biggest difference here is that those albums have more glorious and majestic musical approach to folk metal whereas Suden uni is more earthly and though it’s not so melancholic, it occasionally sounds even grim. Folk instruments have a more primitive sound to them and they’re also more indigenous in a way than on Moonsorrow’s later albums. The production is good but still rougher than later in their career, enhancing the already dusky atmosphere. With these attributes, Suden uni provokes images from the ancient, gloomy forests and the sturdy Finns living there under the harsh circumstances. Lyrical themes consist mainly of Finnish paganism, bloody battles of old times and nature’s might. These tales are told by the singer Ville Sorvali with a heart-racking and emotional voice and shrieking-style, which give them an unique framework.
The forces that drive the music onward on Suden uni are many. The drumming is made with that hollow-sound to them that is often used in black metal. Marko Tarvonen is a talented player beating his instrument thunderously. Besides drums, he offers clean backing choirs and uses a couple of folk-instruments. Henri Sorvali is the main songwriter with his cousin Ville and a guitarist of high skill. His riffs sound like been drawn from the past world and he surely knows how to make memorable melodies. Henri also sings most of the clean vocals and takes part in the choirs too as well as playing keyboards, accordion and mouth-harp. He’s a definite multi-expert! Ville plays bass in addition to his vocal-duties as well as provides handclapping with Henri and Marko and various quest handclappers.
The main goal of Suden uni is to create an ancient atmosphere with a great touch of majesty but also to bring forth the hardships of the pagan folk. Quite subtle but still very effective synth-mats follow the strong and rugged guitar and bass lines. A variety of folk instruments are used in the right places to construct an old, primordial soundscape. The second track Köyliönjärven jäällä (Pakanavedet II) is a great example of this with its ethereal intro-riffs and beautiful accordion-interludes. It tells a tale from the 12th century, of a Finnish peasant Lalli and a Christian bishop. Unfortunately its validity is questionable but Lalli is regarded as a hero by many Finns, usually not because of his resistance against Christianity but of his obduracy and courage. Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti is a wonderful instrumental piece that pays respect to the nature. It is to be listened at the shore of a lake in the middle of an old forest if one wants it to truly reveal its secrets.
The tracks Ukkosenjumalan poika, Kuin ikuinen and Pakanajuhla have all their own, ingenious and brilliant features. Ukkosenjumalan poika is a stormy, powerful and aggressive song, a great opening for Suden uni. Kuin ikuinen concentrates on creating a battle-atmosphere and Pakanajuhla is a very folkish track depicting an ancient pagan feast. 1065: Aika can be considered to be the first true Moonsorrow-epos in the vein of Sankaritarina, Raunioilla and the like. It’s over 11 minutes long and flows from a passage to another, taking the listener to a journey back in time. However, while 1065: Aika is a very good song, it has somewhat weak stages too. The long beginning is in fact too long and the listener almost gets bored before something greater starts to happen. As a whole, the song isn’t so memorable as the others although it has some glorious moments like the clean choir-part that appears during the second half of the song. The following track, Suden uni, is maybe the weakest spot on the album: a minute-long acoustic instrumental with some synths featuring the same melody which is, though a good one, the same that is introduced to us at the end of Pakanajuhla. I consider Suden uni as a complete filler, the only one Moonsorrow has ever done. On the re-release, there’s also track number eight, Tulkaapa äijät! that is a hilariously upbeat drinking song done with pure Finnish attitude.
If you like folk black metal with a great dose of epicness, heathen-themed metal or just melodic extreme metal, Suden uni is for you. This is atmospheric metal at its best!
Moonsorrow, a name every folk/Viking metal fans should know, is known for special music style which combines Scandinavian folk tones, epic atmosphere, black metal influences and progressive elements. Moonsorrow was formed in 1995 by two cousins: Ville Seponpoika Sorvali and Henri Urponpoika Sorvali. Before they signed by Spinfarm Records they released two great demos: Metsä, Tämä Ikuinen Talvi. They were symphonic black metal band at that time, but their music soon become much more epic and folk. In February 2001 they released their first album: Suden Uni. With this album, we can realize what their music sound like, and why their music career is a tremendous success.
In this album, Moonsorrow use black metal riffs with symphonic keyboard line, to create majestic and powerful music. Songs such as Ukkosenjumalan Poika, Köyliönjärven Jäällä (Pakanavedet II), and Kuin Ikuinen truly show the black metal influences in their music. The double-bass parts in these songs and the extremely fast drum blasts in the last minute of Ukkosenjumalan Poika are black metal drumming styles. They also use lots of black metal riffs throughout three songs. But Moonsorrow is not a pure black metal band! Their keyboard arrangements show why they are so special! The melodies of keyboards are Scandinavian folk tones and turn these songs from pure black metal into Viking metal sounds magically. It will soon become their unique style.
Folk instrument using skill is another outstanding ability of Moonsorrow, especially in this album. Moonsorrow use accordion in Köyliönjärven Jäällä (Pakanavedet II), Kuin Ikuinen, Pakanajuhla, and Tulkaapa Äijät, to play classic folk melodies. Pakanajuhla and Tulkaapa Äijät are truly headbanging. Moonsorrow try to create paganfest scene in these songs, the drum tempo is fast, the guitars play lively, and the drunken vikings shout loudly. These really make you want to take a drink and dance with those Viking brothers. Both of two songs are folk metal masterpieces.
The best song on this album is the ten minutes epic: 1065: Aika. This is the first epic metal song made by Moonsorrow, and it’s amazing. This song is based on beautiful keyboard melodies which create huge atmosphere. The guitars and drums fit with keyboards perfectly. Moonsorrow also perform their classic choirs in this song, and it's the best moment in this album!!!!!This is why I love viking metal and why I love Moonsorrow so much!!!!!
Besides, I’d like to mention the vocal performance. Ville Sorvali is one of the best vocalists I’ve known. His harsh vocal style is unique, just like he screams with his whole heart, very passionate. I even can feel his emotions from his voice. That’s the way a metal vocalist should be!!!!!
So combine all the advantages: passionate vocals, blackened guitar tones, majestic atmosphere, classic folk melodies, and perfect musicianship. Moonsorrow have truly made a promising debut at the beginning of their career. Although Suden Uni is not good enough to become a classic, it’s still a folk/Viking metal masterpiece. If you like Scandinavian folks and Viking sounds, or you are a fan of epic metal, you shouldn’t miss this one.
This is a very fine start for Moonsorrow. They had some great demos before this first full-length album, but this one is even better. The demos and this album definately have more black metal influence than any of the other albums, although Verisakeet sort of brings the black metal feel back to it.
We start off with "Ukkosenjumalan Poika" which is the best done track on the album. It starts off with a very nice wolf howl before the drums and guitar kick in. The guitar is very good and it is more clear than the drums, and then Ville starts screaming. His vocals in this are very good, growly, and even a little vicious. One thing is though that they are barely audible over the guitars and keyboards which, rare for Moonsorrow, are actually heard more clearly than in other songs.
"Koyliojarven Jalla (Pakanavedet II)" starts off heavily, then the fiddle comes in and later the acoustic guitar, which has a beautiful sound to it. Then the song explodes again with a scream from Ville, although once again it is pretty weak, because its barely audible. The vocals however are great here, and can be heard without straining your ear. The fiddle and acoustic guitar make several more re-appearances. The chanting clean vocals of Henri are also well done.
"Kuin Ikuinen" is a very well done epic, structure-wise. It has a few melodies and it stays with them rather than going all over the place with different melodies. It is the second best song on the album. It starts off heavily with drums being the main instrument you hear and then we get one of Ville's best screams on this album before the vocals once again kick in. There are also a lot more clean vocals on this song, later on.
"Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti" starts off with the sound of waves and acoustic guitar. This part also reminds me of Verisakeet, the newest album, which also contains a lot of the sounds of nature. We get some heavier guitars here too later on as well as the fiddle. This track is also mainly instrumental and that is a benefit as this song sounds better off without including any vocals.
"Pakanajuhla" starts off with a fiddle again, the fiddle is very present in this album as you can tell before the guitars and drums kick in. Ville's vocals are good in here and they sound a bit more aggressive than usual.
"1065: Aika" is the lengthiest song on here clocking in at 11:01. The first 2 minutes of it are really basically nothing...you can hear a little melody quietly in the background, but it really does nothing much. One thing that this song does do to you is give you a very dark feeling. After that we get the drums and guitar to kick in as well as a very harsh and painful sounding scream from Ville at around 2:15. This almost sounds like a song one would listen to while watching Vikings fighting a battle in the background several hundred years ago. This song maintains a similar melody throughout its entirety and contains only chanting. Ville gets a little break here.
"Suden Uni" is an ambience piece and it really doesn't do much for the album. They should have kept it out of the album.
Now if you have the re-issue, next comes "Tulkaapa Aijat!" This is a very fun drinking song that starts off with someone opening a beer. One to enjoy, and one that takes you away from the usual epic tales of Moonsorrow.
The re-issue also contains a DVD with two promo videos, "Sankarihauta" and "Jumalten Kaupunki". They are both shorter versions of the original song but are still very enjoyable. The "Sankarihauta" video does have somewhat poor quality though. "Jumalten Kaupunki" is a much better done video.
It also has four live tracks from Live At Tuska in 2003. The four tracks are "Jumalten Kaupunki", "Sankarihauta", "Kylan Paassa", and "Unohduksen Lapsi". They are all very enjoyable, especially "Sankarihauta" and "Kylan Paassa" which sound a bit different than the original versions. Moonsorrow own live!
The first LP released from this band, maybe you could think that a new Viking band would probably sound like "deja vu", concerning everything that has been made before their time. Well, anyone with this opinion is undoubtably wrong or hasn't heard the CD with true listeners ears.
The CD starts incredibly well with "Ukkosenjumalan Poika", this song's an absolute killer. The riffage of the entire song creates a unique atmosphere that kind of makes think about battles and stuff like that, very epic song with a trmendous feeling.
Secondly "Koylionjarven Jaalla Pakanaved" apears to give a most folk oriented ambience. This song unfortunatly doesn't get the ambience that his "brother song" gets in the fifth track, "Pakanajuhla" is definatly a much more enthusiastic song the previous. Still they're quite good and both tend to refresh the ambience of the CD.
"Kuin Ikuinen" then kicks in with a smooth entrance to probably the best constructed song on the release. This one gathers all the key elements that makes this a remarkable release, melody, heavy riffage, ambience and the epic tone.
The fourth and sixth tracks are the epic ambience oriented songs, both "Tuulen Koti, Aaltojen Koti" and "1065 : Aika" are classics on their epic aproach to appease their gods. Absolute wonders of Viking metal, these two will make you breathless!
The final track "Suden Uni" is a simple acoustic guitar outro, nothing really special.
Good reasons for you to aquire this release, well the epic feeling on the album is quite evident, highly dense atmospheres gives the music a quite freedom-like sensation, and the melody's are simply astonishing. I recomend this CD to any open-minded fan that can understand the true feeling behind bands like Tyr, Bathory or Amon Amarth, just to name a few, still this band has its own unique sound and resources. In one word : Unique!