Crash Course: Swallow The Sun

After giving a spotlight on one of my favorite vocalists, Mikko Kotamaki, I thought I’d expand upon one of his main projects, and my introduction to the doom metal genre. Swallow The Sun are not what would be called ‘traditional’ or ‘conventional’ doom in the vein of Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, instead in a more melodic doom-death approach. But don’t get tied up by genre specifications, and instead continue on the somber journey with one of Finland’s leading metal bands.

Swallow The Sun was started up in 2000 by the guitarist, Juha Raivio, who formed it from the ashes of Plutonium Orange and supported by members of the recently-split Funeris Nocturnum. After 3 years, they’d gathered enough material to release a demo, Out Of This Gloomy Light, which then got them signed to Firebox Records and morphed into their début album, The Morning Never Came. Swallow The Sun seemed to have had a clear idea of their style, one which incorporates the melancholic and crushing guitarwork along with Mikko’s recognizable growls (there were less cleans on the earlier releases). It also showcased keyboardist Aleksi Munter’s talent, which was to be expanded on the next release. For now, enjoy the opening track of their well-received début, “Through Her Silvery Body”:

Ghosts Of Loss followed quickly in 2005, and proved to be the springboard release for the band’s popularity in Finland and Europe, also spawning a single in “Forgive Her…”. Swallow The Sun built upon the atmospheric elements to create some poignant tracks, (The Giant and The Ship for example), and in my opinion outdid themselves when compared to The Morning Never Came. Consider the provided track below, “Forgive Her…”. And the best is yet to come…

Two years later, Swallow The Sun put out their most famous album yet, Hope. This was the first album I heard of them, and I was immediately struck by its beauty. The band showcase their polarized approach of quiet and harsh passages brilliantly, and Mikko starts to bring in some more black metal-style rasps, although the album loses its way a bit near the end before the surprise anglicized cover of Timo Rautianian’s “Alavilla Mailla” featuring Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis. To summarize this album, I give you the infectious melody of their most famous song, “Don’t Fall Asleep”, the full version:

(for the impatient ones, an edited video version is here)

Between albums, Swallow The Sun also took the time to release a soundtrack for a ballet production/movie, which appears to have been scrapped, but the EP itself is still available, entitled Plague Of Butterflies. It’s one song of 30 minutes, and also includes the first demo tracks from the The Morning Never Came era, possibly for comparison. I haven’t heard this EP, so I can’t comment on it, but I’ve heard very good things about it from Metal Archives.

Later, in 2009 (coinciding unfortunately with the movie of the same name), New Moon emerged, and is possibly the most melodic one yet. Between the catchy choruses of Falling World and of the title track, that could certainly be argued. But especially with the track provided, this album also showcases a heavier side, almost bordering into black metal at one point in the song. I can certainly agree it’s their most accessible album thus far, but that certainly isn’t a bad way to be introduced to the band. I leave you with “Lights On The Lake”, and the promise of a new album due out this year entitled Emerald Forest And The Blackbird. I know I’m looking forward to it.

Bonus content:

A new song has just started being streamed by Terrorizer, go here to read more! I kinda like it, leave your thoughts below.

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