SWAL­LOW THE SUN

When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light CEN­TURY MEDIA Doom-death vet­er­ans deal with in­con­solable loss

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Album Reviews -

Juha raivO has been keep­ing him­self busy since the tragic death of his life part­ner and Trees Of Eter­nity band­mate Aleah Star­bridge in 2016, chan­nelling his grief into first-class doom metal. Af­ter launch­ing new band Hal­latar in 2017 to hon­our her mem­ory, there’s now this seventh long-player for his moth­er­ship band and life’s work, Swal­low The Sun – the band Juha con­ceived alone in his Fin­nish Lake­land home at the start of the mil­len­nium, and the medium through which he met his muse.

From their first demo in 2003, Swal­low The Sun were nail­ing a ma­ture and emo­tive strain of melan­cholic doom-death that they’ve con­tin­ued hon­ing ever since, reach­ing a peak on 2015’s Songs From The North Parts I, II and III – an epic, in­ten­sive, two-and-a-half hour pine-scented mas­ter­work. El­e­gant melan­choly has al­ways been their MO, but this al­bum’s gloom can­not help but dev­as­tate even more ut­terly in the shadow of such pro­found loss. Even the acous­tic camp­fire strum­ming takes on a de­jected hue, the mo­ments of hushed del­i­cacy even more crush­ing than the slug­gish de­scent of power chords.

How­ever, for all the many lay­ers of mu­si­cal sor­row – gla­cial shoegazey ca­dences, som­no­lent pipe or­gan, haunt­ing pi­ano, weepy strings, and Mikko Ko­tamäki’s nakedly vul­ner­a­ble clean vo­cal melodies – the pre­dom­i­nant ex­pres­sive force here is pal­pa­bly Juha’s gui­tar play­ing. Cast­ing sub­tle shades of mood with just a chord pro­gres­sion or key change, he spills out bit­ter­sweet melodies while push­ing the gui­tar hero­ics to such an ef­fu­sive ex­tent that it starts to feel like this full-blooded im­mer­sion in the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a six-string has a ther­a­peu­tic ob­ses­sive­ness, help­ing raise the bar at ev­ery level. STS could never be ac­cused of skimp­ing on emo­tional in­ten­sity, but the raw­ness and re­al­ness of the pain be­hind this al­bum leaves their pre­vi­ous work sound­ing breezily un­trou­bled in com­par­i­son.

FOR FANS OF: Opeth, My Dy­ing Bride, Kata­to­nia

cHRIS cHANTLER

Swal­low the Sun: a to­tal eclipse of the heart

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