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Suotana - Ounas I review

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Band: Suotana
Album: Ounas I
Release date: March 2023

01. Lake Ounas (The Beginning)
02. Through The Mammoth Valley
03. The Ancient
04. Legacy
05. River Ounas
06. Land Of The Dead [Summoning cover]

Surprise, surprise, another great meloblack/melodeath band from the land of snow and metal. Do the Finns ever disappoint in such genres? Well, Suotana, at the very least, prove here once again that they don't.

Formed back in 2005 was the impressive six-member Finnish meloblack/melodeath metal act Suotana; perhaps leaning more towards meloblack than melodeath, elements of both genres are clearly apparent in their style. With Ounas I only their third release to date, they're a band that haven't exactly got a lot to show for in their 18-year existence, and so have pretty much remained an underground act throughout. I suppose is unsurprising in a way; Finland is a nation brimming left, right, and centre with top-quality metal acts, so many will naturally fall under the radar, but maybe Suotana's time to shine has finally come with the epically melodic Ounas I.

The album contains six tracks, including a great cover of the Summoning song "Land Of The Dead", with a theme centered around the beauty and majesty of nature, depicting stunning wintry landscapes, something we have become accustomed to with Finnish and Nordic metal in general. The short instrumental opener "Lake Ounas (The Beginning)" acts as the perfect introduction, setting the tone of what's to come, and easing the album in gently through beautifully constructed orchestral synth work and enchanting melodies.

From then on, you are met by some strong melodic, blackened, galloping riffs, so catchy that they will be ringing in your ears long after the album has finished, with incredibly striking Summoning-inspired twinkling keyboard melodies, a heavy-sounding drum presence, and an almost equal variety of shrieks and growls. All this is masterfully produced, with each element sounding crystal clear, yet nothing becoming overpowering in the mix.

Through the tracks "Through The Mammoth Valley", "The Ancient", and "Legacy", you will be privileged to hear clean chants, accompanied by blackened shrieks and death growls, exciting guitar leads, atmospheric keyboard passages, and a cool, collective rhythm section, where the bass and drumming stay consistent throughout, allowing the overlapping elements to shine through. Each of the six musicians involved performs wonderfully.

It's only once the twelve-minute-long "River Ounas" hits that I find the album begins to run out of steam; of course, featuring a lengthy epic should come as no surprise, but I find the track in this particular instance simply too long. It almost acts as a miss-mash of everything we had already heard on the album so far, not that it's a bad song, but not the epic closer it perhaps should have been. Still, thankfully, and surprisingly, this isn't the actual closer.

As covers go, I have to say this version of Summoning's "Land Of The Dead" is brilliant; I admit I was skeptical about the idea of a melodeath/meloblack band covering such an epic atmospheric black metal track, especially as this happens to be one of my favorite tracks from one of my all-time favorite albums, Oath Bound, but this is more than a pleasant surprise. Suotana really make this version their own; the whole structure fits perfectly with the album, and doesn't for one tiny bit seem out of place.

If you're really taken back by the joyous, melodic Ounas I, then I suggest you stay tuned as Suotana could well be planning an Ounas II in the near future, unless we have another Time I on our hands. Let's hope for the sake of our sanity that's not the case, and Suotana have a good future ahead, with no false promises (yes, I'm referring to that band Wintersun).

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 9

Written on 30.03.2023 by Feel free to share your views. But be nice.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 75 users
01.04.2023 - 08:43
Rating: 8

Indeed a very good album, great cover (art) . great music and great atmosphere.
01.04.2023 - 13:39
Rating: 8

Yeah, loved this album. Need to check the rest of their discography now, hopefully as good as this one !
04.04.2023 - 16:15
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Good Jobe but I say this band will put 30 more albums out before Time II
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
10.04.2023 - 15:57
Rating: 8

Haha. i would still prefer their albums to any Time 2
01.06.2023 - 03:01
Rating: 8

Great album, felt that the second half of the album was stronger than the first half
Leeches everywhere.

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