MOONSORROW — Suden uni (review)

MOONSORROW — Suden uni album cover Album · 2001 · Folk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
After a string of demos proving that they had what it took to master the art of becoming mere black metal clones of their Norwegian neighbors, the Finnish Pagan folk metal band MOONSORROW that formed in 1995 in Helsinki had differentiated themselves enough from the pack and released their debut album as the old millennium was swallowed up by the Northern lights and a new change of guard had occurred. While present on the demos, the Pagan folk elements were obscured in a lo-fi cacophonous din of buzzsaw feedback and pissed cat screams. On their debut album SUDEN UNI (“Wolf’s Dream”) cousins Ville Sorvali and Henri Sorvali added on Marko Tarvonen for percussion as well as an army of guests who provide nothing more than handclaps!

Right from the very first track "Ukkosenjumalan poika" ("Son of the God of Thunder”) it’s clear that MOONSORROW had latched onto a style that is theirs alone. While the black metal is as ferocious as ever with heavily distorted guitar and bass fuzziness, the compositions are now composed as Pagan folk melodies that utilize epic hummable catchiness with the black metal augmenting the intensity into overdrive and often dominating to the point where the folk is buried. While the band would prove shortly to blend these elements together even more seamlessly with their second album of the same year “Voimasta Ja Kunniasta,” the result of the blending of blatant folk melodies on keyboard, accordion and mouth harp in full company of black metal shrieks, guitar fury and the insane drumming prowess of Tarvonen was quite novel at the time and is quite satisfying even at this early stage as it seems once MOONSORROW hit pay dirt with their signature sound that any variations of their elements dominating was secondary to the strength of the compositions churned out.

At this point MOONSORROW hadn’t quite ventured into the world of progressive metal as with their later releases but the tracks on SUDEN UNI are ripe for the picking as each track exudes an epic feel with several extended length tracks clocking in over six minutes with the profound “1065: Aika” just squeaking over the eleven minute mark. On SUDEN UNI the beauty is in the pacing of the elements as each synth drenched moody atmosphere builds up intensity as the guitars and drum fury are coaxed from their reticence and then allowed to unleash hypnotic fury into the musical patterns that provide a simultaneous epic charm and sonic assault. Ville Sorvali’s vocals have improved big time as his pissed off cat shrieks have become more distinguished shrieks and offers some clean vocal Viking metal moments as well although the band dislike that term and insist on being referred to as Pagan black folk metal.

For me SUDEN UNI is not a weak debut in the least despite the elements not being as neatly tucked together as cleverly as on future albums. This one is more straightforward in nature but not one bit less satisfying and actually sounds more diverse than some of the epic albums with sprawling never-ending tracks like “V: Hävitetty.” SUDEN UNI has been released in two significant forms. The first release with the fire orange album cover with a ghostly wolf howling into the blood red horizon and re-released in 2003 with the cover art i prefer with a human body donning a wolf’s head holding a spiral-ended staff of some sort. This edition includes the bonus track "Tulkaapa äijät!" ("Come Along, Fellows!”) which is probably the closest thing to a black metal drinking song that MOONSORROW has ever recorded. While not a vital experience in relationship to the rest of the album since it doesn’t have the epic feel, it nonetheless is a nice little lighthearted (black metal style) closer. SUDEN UNI is hardly a throwaway debut release. This is a major step from the demo laden abyss from whence they came and a true declaration of blackened folk metal innovation.
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