There are times that you find it hard to write about a new release. And not for its (undeniable) quality, but for the story behind it. Swallow The Sun, four years after the magnificent “Songs From The North” return with another great album.
The story has to do with their founder, guitarist and main composer Juha Raivio. It was 2016 when his life partner, Aleah Stanbridge, passed away due to cancer. With her, they had founded Trees Of Eternity and she didn’t even got to see their album “Hour Of The Nightingale” being released. Juha then founded Hallatar as a tribute to her, with Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis on vocals, releasing another great album called “No Stars Upon The Bridge”.
And after many difficult months for him, when he was pretty much a hermit in the woods, Juha comes back with his basic band. They released the single “Lumina Aurea” and a terrific video/mini-movie for it and now their seventh full-length album. The first, self-titled track, starts ideally. The title comes from the song “Broken Mirror” of Trees Of Eternity and it puts you straight away into its dark atmosphere, despite the calm intro. The string and the heart-shattering vocals of Mikko Kotamäki create something unique.
“The Crimson Crown” is a magnificent, melancholic and calm composition with clean vocals only. In the same pattern is “Firelights” that also has a small burst of extremity. You can also find great moments on “Upon The Water” and “Clouds On Your Side” and in the latter Juha uses lyrics of Aleah. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the rest of the songs don’t matter, this is a release that from beginning to end hasn’t even a bad moment.
Every man deals with the tragedies of life in his own way. Juha, through struggle, managed to create excellent music. A melancholic, gloomy, melodic doom/death metal album that confirms what we already knew. Swallow The Sun are one of the top bands of their genre. With such music and vocals, how can’t they be?