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23 July 2012

Suden uni


SUDEN UNI

Technical data
Comments
The songs
Trivia
Personal review
Photos

TECHNICAL DATA

Recorded in Tico Tico Studios, Kemi, Finland, and mixed by Ahti "Pirtu" Kortelainen between February 7th and 16th 2000. Unmastered.

Henri Urponpoika Sorvali: guitar, keyboard, accordion, mouth harp, clean vocals, handclaps.
Ville Seponpoika Sorvali: bass, vocals, handclaps.
Baron Tarwonen (Marko Tarvonen): Thunder, timpani, 12-string guitar, backing vocals, handclaps.
Guests: Janne Perttilä (handclaps, backing vocals), Avather and Blastmor of Thyrane (handclaps).

1. Ukkosenjumalan poika (M: Henri and Ville; L: Kaija Kokkonen)
2. Köyliönjärven jäällä (Pakanavedet II) (M: Henri; L: Ville)
3. Kuin ikuinen (M: Henri; L: Ville)
4. Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti (M: Henri; L: Ville)
5. Pakanajuhla (M: Henri and Ville; L: Ville)
6. 1065: aika (M: Henri; L: Ville)
7: Suden uni (M: Henri)


Plasmatica edition:

Released in April 2001.
Re-pressed in September 2002.
Catalog number: PR003


Spikefarm edition:

Bonus track recorded and mixed in Tico Tico in December 2002, during the Kivenkantaja sessions. Besides Henri, Ville and Marko, Markus and Mitja appear too. Guests: Robert and Stefan Lejon (handclaps).
Mastered by Mika Jussila in Finnvox studios, Helsinki, in October 2003.
DVD recorded on July 11th 2003 at Tuska festival, Helsinki.
Released on December 8th, 2003.
Catalog number: Naula 044

Bonus:

8. Tulkaapa äijät! (M: traditional; L: Swedish traditional, arranged by Ville)

Sankarihauta videoclip
Jumalten kaupunki videoclip

Live at Tuska 2003:
1. Jumalten kaupunki
2. Sankarihauta
3. Kylän päässä
4. Unohduksen lapsi


Vinyl edition by Drakkar:

Released on July 23rd 2010 (presumably).
Catalog number: Drakkar 136
Bonus: 8. Tulkaapa äijät! (M: traditional; L: Swedish traditional, arranged by Ville).
A white vinyl edition exists, limited to 150 copies, sold exclusively through Nuclear Blast webshop.

Read more info about the different editions in Discogs.


COMMENTS

As is the case with any band’s debut studio album, Suden Uni meant a significant step for Moonsorrow in terms of importance in the metal scene. After signing a contract with the Swedish label Plasmatica Records, the album was recorded in February 2000, though not released until April 2001 (1000 copies). A slightly different pressing came out in September 2002, consisting of an unknown number of copies ("Not more than 1000 copies. We don't know for sure as it was a ripoff anyway," says the band). On December 8th, 2003 Spikefarm re-released Suden uni with a completely different design, a DVD, and a bonus track. On July 23rd, 2010 (or a date very close to it) a vinyl edition appeared, with the same overall design as the Spikefarm version, the same bonus track and some liner notes written by Marko. You can read more detailed info about all this (except the vinyl edition, as I haven't gotten that far yet) in Chapter 2 of the biography.

The two Plasmatica pressings have the same cover art, but there's a slight distinction in the design that makes them possible to tell apart, and there are important differences in the content of the booklet. Let's see how to tell the first apart from the second:



Click to view in full size.

The print quality and saturation are visibly higher in the second pressing, on the cover as well as in the booklet and inlay. Still, as this distinction may not be so obvious if you're only looking at one of them, there is an infallible trick: the title is slightly moved towards the left on one of the covers, so if the vertical line of the "d" is completely out of the stone, you can be sure it's the second one. Aside from that, the letters in the first one are kind of shiny and the logo is blurry. For some reason, neither version has the dot over the "i".

Concerning the content of the booklet, the one in the first pressing has ten pages (plus covers), seven of which have photos of lakes and forests, while the remaining three each have the face of a band member. Very young and all that - they were between 19 and 22 years old. The pages with lakes have the lyrics, all in Finnish, accompanied by a short text explaining what each song is about in English.

While the print quality is higher in the booklet of the second pressing, the number of pages is lower (six, plus covers) and the bandmember pics are missing (so there's no band pic at all). The lake photos are the same, but in different order. The first two pages have the lyrics in Finnish, the two in the middle have the credits and thanks, and the last two have the lyrics totally translated into English. The font is more elegant but more difficult to read - Papyrus instead of a normal one - Arial or whatever.

The CD matrix code for both Plasmatica pressings is GZ M32221 PR003. According to Discogs, a bootleg version of the 1st one exists with the matrix code WAR000028, but it's just that, a bootleg, and therefore not official.

The Spikefarm edition is completely different. The drawing was done by Niklas Sundin, Dark Tranquillity guitarist and responsible for the artwork of many metal
albums. The photos are small (they're actually pieces of photos) and are black and white. Full translations appear again, and the back cover shows a picture of the band as it was at the time of the re-release, with five members, and Marko's real name (Markus was still Lord). The music sounds much better. The change in sound isn’t like the contrast between the different versions of the demos, because it's the same mix and so the instruments sound the same in relation to each other, but the sound is undoubtedly cleaner and louder in this edition.

The vinyl edition has the same artwork as the Spikefarm CD and the same overall design. The inner sleeve has the lyrics, credits, etc on one side and some witing by Marko on the other, signed May 2010, telling his opinion on what the album meant for the band at that moment from a musical point of view.


THE SONGS

All of the songs in Suden uni deal with Paganism and Christianization in some way.

Ukkosenjumalan poika: Means "Son of the God of Thunder". Apparently, it was Henri who gave it the title and expected Ville to write some epic lyrics about Thor, but, as he tells it , they weren't written by Ville in the end but by Ville's girlfriend at the time, and ended up talking about "a spoiled brat". It has a musical similarity to Moonspell's "Alma mater".

Köyliönjärven jäällä (Pakanavedet II): "On the Ice of Lake Köyliö (Pagan Waters II)" is the title of the second song they dedicated to Lalli, the first being the previous demo's "Luopion veri". Lalli is a character of Finnish folklore and an icon of anti-Christian sentiment for killing a bishop in the first years of Finland's Christianization. You can read more about it on Wikipedia. The killing is supposed to have happened on that Lake Köyliö, hence the title of the song.

Kuin ikuinen: "As Eternal". It talks about a defeated warrior that walks among corpses and gore after a battle until he dies from his wounds and feels void. Or somehing poetic like that.

Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti: "Home of the Winds, Home of the Waves". A short poem praising the sea and the wind.

Pakanajuhla: "Pagan Feast". About exactly that: villagers around a table talking bad about the foreign god that others want to impose. The two last lines are, "Into a wolf's dream we soon may fall again," and shortly after, a melody which is totally different from the rest of the song starts, and will be repeated at the end of the album. This is probably Moonsorrow's most popular and most covered song.

1065: Aika: "1065: Time". In Ville's words: "In 1065 there was a battle on the bridge of Stamford which is written into the books of history as the battle where the Vikings eventually were defeated by the Christians. Although also Vikings were already rather christian at the time." "Most of our ancestors were not Vikings anyway but their fate was the same, so I decided to use Vikings as the symbol just because they might be the most well-known heathen culture in the Christian era." The Battle of Stamford Bridge was actually fought in September 1066, or so it appears in all of the sources I've found. Anyway, that's the title and that's the topic. It's stylistically and lyrically similar to the later "Raunioilla" and Bathory's "One Rode to Asa Bay".

Suden uni: "A wolf's dream". It revisits the final melody in "Pakanajuhla", and its title is related to the abovementioned last verse.

Bonus:
Tulkaapa äijät!: "Come Along, Fellows!" The happiest song Moonsorrow has recorded talks about a funeral. The speaker is the deceased one, who calls his friends ("Tulkaapa Markus, Mitja, Marko ja Henri") to get drunk and have fun on his behalf.


TRIVIA

- Henri had written 10 songs which sounded similar to the previous demo, but eventually gave them up because he decided they were uninteresting and started again from scratch, writing those which ended up on the album.

- The instrumental track "Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti" also has lyrics. They are written in the booklet of all editions and, being so short, it's the only one that comes translated in its full integrity in the first Plasmatica pressing (I even think the translated version has one more line than the original one, but I can't assure that). In no moment of the recording is this short poem sung or spoken.

- According to Marko, the bonus track "Tulkaapa äijät!", made popular in Scandinavia by Swedish duo Nordman under the title "Kom nu gubbar", features a distorted accordion that Ahti Kortelainen (the owner of Tico Tico Studios) had always wanted to include in a Moonsorrow song.

- "1065: Aika" is the only song on this album which has never been played live. // Update Oct 2015: It was played for the first time in June 2014, and has been present in most sets since then.


PERSONAL REVIEW

And, when I say personal, I mean personal. You may disagree 100%.

Suden uni is one of the most influential albums in folk metal as we know it nowadays, as well as one of the most imitated. Here we find the band's greatest hit: "Pakanajuhla", a song that doesn't represent them at all (especially now), but still one that gave rise to the emergence of lots of "Pakanajuhla bands", which, together with the "Lai Lai Hei bands", "Trollhammaren bands", and "Happy Little Boozer bands", still pop up constantly. The fact that it was released around the beginning of the millennium, when the genre started gaining the strength to reach the popularity it would have few years later, contributed to making it an almost undeniable classic, together with the sophomore album, which we'll deal with another day.

Despite the success or fame it may have, this is, undoubtedly, the Moonsorrow album I like least. As I usually say, it's a good album by general music standards, but weak, even mediocre, by Moonsorrow standards. The six actual songs it consists of (I'm not counting the outro or the bonus track) can be easily divided into two groups: the happy ones and the serious ones. The happy ones would be "Kuin ikuinen", "Köyliönjärven jäällä" and the omnipresent "Pakanajuhla", while the serious ones would be the dark "Ukkosenjumalan poika", the beautiful instrumental "Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti", and the epic and progressive "1065: Aika". I think it's clear which group I prefer, right? Okay, "Kuin ikuinen" has some charm and, aside from the

Oh wait... It's their Chinese drummer!!! - Marko dixit
accordion melody, it isn't really that happy, but the other two seem stuck in the middle of the road, having some melodies that clearly try to give them a "shiny" touch, but being too grey at the same time to be truly cheerful. As a more successful example of a party song we can look at "Tulkaapa äijät!", the bonus track in the newer release and the only one that really creates that tavern atmosphere. Although "Pakanajuhla" is still the average folk metaller's favourite, I agree with what somebody said in the forum a while ago (when it was active) and I observed in more people: it's the Moonsorrow song for people who don't like Moonsorrow, or not especially. This obviously doesn't apply in all cases (and even if it did, being a "bigger" or "smaller" fan doesn't mean anything at all), but I think it makes sense. The band members themselves don't seem too satisfied with it, at least some of them have mentioned it as their least favourite, and even though it used to be omnipresent in their concerts, it was taken out of the set in the spring of 2010, being in a way replaced by "Köyliönjärven jäällä", and it hasn't played again so far (July 2012) as far as I know. They didn't even play it fully: the last minutes, being the most interesting part of the song and the melody of which is linked to the outro, were missing. See? Everything's wrong!

The other three songs are very good. "Ukkosenjumalan poika" is maybe the darkest on the album, partly because of the final blast beat, and the only one with certain details, like the bells or whatever that is in the middle, that is reminiscent of the previous demo, Tämä ikuinen talvi, even if only its slowest parts. "Tuulen koti, aaltojen koti" is a short, evocative instrumental track, with no further aspirations. And finally, "1065: Aika" is the most unfairly forgotten song in Moonsorrow's discography, maybe because it has never been performed live, maybe because of it not being as catchy as the others, maybe because of previewing a density that wouldn't become the band's trademark until some time later, or maybe because of a mixture of all these factors. Besides, it is very reminiscent of Bathory. In any case, it's a jewel that mustn't be forgotten.

In summary, Suden uni signifies a clear break with their previous fast sound and draws the path the band would follow from then on. The abundance in details that impregnates everything Henri Sorvali's fingers touch, the clearest examples here being the initial howling, the intelligent use of thunder and wave effects and an outro that closes a cycle opened previously, mean the necessary ornament to finish an album with maybe not the most convincing variety but still some great tracks, and which, despite its faults, would define the future of Moonsorrow and start the unstoppable improvement in the quality and complexity of their music.


PHOTOS

I found the white vinyl one in a Last.fm blog. The last one is a bootleg version of the Spikefarm bonus DVD. I have no idea where on earth I got that image from.