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‘Songs From The North I, II And III
(Century Media)
Out now

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland

swallow the sun

Finnish Doom Metallers Swallow The Sun are proud of doing what they think is the national pastime of musicians in Finland and welcoming gradations of black, death and funereal menace into their songwriting.

There is plenty of dark , broody Metal of many kinds coming out of their land of long dark winters and their output to date has been no exception. Their forte is intense, death-doom with super growly vocals, a huge riffing sound and some quality songwriting and lighter echoes mixed in to make it memorable.

Their albums have been critically acclaimed and they have even made the top three in the Finnish album charts. With this latest offering, the first since 2012's 'Emerald Forest And The Blackbird' they are really upping the stakes on their creative ambitions.

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In a modern era where people question if the album is viable as an art form, when downloading a song is one click away, they have come up with a triple album. Not a best of, not a box set of old recordings but three discs worth of new material.

There is some sort of loose theme connecting the three albums according to the band but musically there are three distinct themes. Album one is the band in atypical gentle mode. Full of acoustic guitars, mellow hooklines and clean vocals of both the male and female variety it only occasionally breaks out into full doom mode but is full of haunting melodies and interesting turns.

In actual fact despite being the least doomy of the three albums it's the one I find myself returning to most, but admittedly I'm more of an occasional Doom Metal fan than an afficianado.

The second of the albums is the one which sees them more in the doom/death crossover zone that they have inhabited most of their career. It is still fairly melodic by their standards with spooky piano intros and lots of clean harmony vocals and would have made a good Swallow The Sun album in its own right. All the hallmarks of the band's quality are there and it could sit nicely alongside this year's releases from Draconian and My Dying Bride in what has been a good year for quality Doom Metal.

The surprising but enjoyable mellow emphasis of the first two albums in this set are soon explained when you put on album number III. Right from the start they have taken all those growly and rasping vocals, intense doom riffs and love of sounding so heavy it's like you are about to be crushed by a whole planet of doom and saved them for these five songs.

There are still moments of light in there with haunting lead guitar lines, choral effects and spoken word sections but you get the feeling all of those are there to make the heavy bits sound even heavier. None of this is bad in any way when it is done as well as these guys do it but I find this album of the three the hardest to listen to all the way through. All that heavy intensity can be wearing after a while.

This review is really just an outline of what this ambitious band have offered up. With a constant flow of albums coming in for review I don't feel I have had time to do more than scratch the surface of this release.

I may after living with it for another few months decide it is a total masterpiece but I haven't been able to give it all the time it deserves in the short time I have had it. I do know that this is definitely something worth checking out for any fan of the band or the Doom Metal genre in general.

Swallow The Sun are a quality outfit and their ambition here should be both applauded and listened to. For now I give them three and half pints.

swallow the sun

Swallow The Sun are:
Juha Raivio – guitar
Markus Jämsen – guitar
Mikko Kotamäki – vocals
Matti Honkonen –bass
Aleksi Munter – keys
Juuso Raatikainen – drums

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