20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair – Live in Helsinki CENTURY MEDIA

- PW

Two discs of glorious Finnish prog metal doom and gloom.

Like every other band over the last couple of years, Finnish prog metal gloomsters Swallow The Sun had to put their plans on hold when their mooted 20th anniversar­y tour of the US and Europe was scuppered by the pandemic. Happily – a relative term word when it comes to a band whose album titles include The Morning Never Came and Ghosts Of Loss – the world gets to experience what would have been their full live set, captured in this performanc­e recorded at Helsinki’s Tavastia Club in February 2020, just before the shutters came down on the world.

Very good it is too, particular­ly for anyone fond of staring off into the wistful middle distance, drinking horn in hand, and a heart full of regret. Especially good is the acoustic rendering of Songs From The North II, backed by a string quartet, where the band manage to conjure up beauty and bleakness in one deathless song. Charitably, they allowed their fans to pick part of the setlist, which means familiar bangers (the eternal wailing of souls that is Cathedral Walls) and the less-heard harbinger of doom that is the compelling Plague Of Butterflie­s both make the final cut.

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