Suden Uni

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For a first album, 2001's Suden Uni (translation: "A Wolf's Dream") was a surprisingly mature accomplishment for Finnish hopefuls Moonsorrow. More than simply moving into the folk-death metal niche conveniently left vacant by their legendary compatriots Amorphis (who by then had decided to explore new musical pastures), Moonsorrow managed to take this underutilized new subgenre to an entirely new level. To do this, they incorporated Finland's traditional folk music forms into elaborate symphonic arrangements typical of Viking metal outfits such as Bathory and Enslaved; then spiced it up with even more vicious ingredients borrowed from straight-up black metal. The combustible results can be heard in the anthemic drama of "Ukkosenjumalan Poika," the striking beauty of "Kuin Ikuinen," and the truly epic history lesson of "1065: Aika" -- all of them sung in Finnish, incidentally. Additional highlights such as "Köyliönjärven Jäällä" and "Tuulen Koti, Aaltojen Koti" further contribute to the album's mesmerizing, unbroken sense of flow -- one which not even regular detours into very unmetallic, extremely danceable folk jigs featuring accordions, flutes, and Jew's harps (?!) can disrupt; and which culminates in the moody, minute-long title cut that is pure Bathory. Impressive through and through, Suden Uni transcended the many sonic reference points named above to instantaneously establish Moonsorrow as champions of their chosen league, and it also proved an almost impossible act to follow.

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