ALBUM: Swallow The Sun – Songs From The North I, II & III
November 13th, 2015
Few bands create what can only be described as a masterpiece. Swallow The Sun have released 3 albums worth of music and 21 songs worth of material to support this claim. The albums, which come in the form of ‘From The North I, II & III’, also having completely different genres of music creates what can only be described as a true underground gem.
The first album is its more conventional album (when compared to the other two) with what in its simplest form exists as a symphonic death metal record. This, however, is not just a bog standard album, as the use of so many elements exist within it. ‘Memory Of Light’ shows the band’s commitment to creativity as it opens with the most amazing acoustic guitar opening. The use of Swedish singer Aleah throughout the context of the first album works so effectively. Used very sparingly and usually more so as an added layer rather than the main focus of any song, Aleah truly shines when combined with the clean singing of Mikko Kotamaki.
The second installment exists as a progressive rock record. The choice to use predominantly acoustic guitar and focus on the ambient soundscapes provided by keyboardist Aleksi Munter gives the second album the most accessible edge. The use of purely clean singing gives the album more of a commercial value, but this is more coincidental than intentional, with the lyrics focusing on dark themes such as satanism and death. The two tracks to focus from on this album would be ‘66,50’N,28,40’E’ and ‘Away’, in which the strongest emphasis on the electronic and ambient atmosphere is chosen to give this song what can only be described as a true sense of beauty and bliss. ‘Songs From The North’ gives Aleah an opportunity to sing in Swedish; though foreign music is something that doesn’t crop up too much in mainstream metal, the choice to have her haunting voice guide you through the landscape just seems a perfect escape.
The third and final slice of action is where true fans of doom metal will be happy. It exists as a 51 minute classic with only 5 songs, leaving fans hungry for this type of music happy. The drums move at such a slow pace, with riffs cutting through you on every song. For most, ‘III’ might seem a step too far within the heavy department. That’s not to say that the album doesn’t give you a break, however, with tracks like ‘Empires Of Loneliness’ going into full sections of piano. This, however, is talking about a metaphorical butterfly asking his heart for life and him saying “no”, leaving the butterfly to become a dark moth and die; leaving no sense of happiness from this track. The dark moth is obviously a metaphor for himself, and this makes you think what kind of person the singer is trying to release from the track. The choice of the gospel choir on ‘The Clouds Prepare For Battle’ before Kotamaki takes the track back in a dark way making it stand out massively. To end this album with the mention of the dark moth’s death and the sound of a storm for 20 seconds only makes the whole dark narrative fit perfectly.
This album is definitely not for everyone. It’s dark, it’s heavy, and it’s so sporadic. Listen to this album in sections, as it does get a bit too much in one sitting. If you’re a fan of heavy music, however, there’s no reason why this album wouldn’t appeal to you.
Written by Bradley Cassidy