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Twelve years ago a mighty force of death and doom metal joined the massive list of Finnish metal bands to grace the world with their beautiful music. Swallow the Sun has released a total of five full length albums over the years, with their most recent being Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, released in February of this year. This album is a masterpiece of beautiful, droning and flowing melodic doom metal, with some death metal elements tossed in to create quite the delicious recipe for an album.
The album begins with an amazing ten minute long song, the title track for the album, “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird”. When I first played this album I could not resist this track. I spent nearly an hour focusing on this song, putting it on repeat and just relaxing. It’s got a great blend of spoken vocals and hard-hitting music, with moments of relapse and a hypnotic woman’s voice cooing in the background. Out of nowhere it explodes into harsh vocals, hard and heavy drums, and great string manipulation that manages to give me chills each time I hear it. This track is a great opener to define the direction of the album that follows.
“Hate, Lead the Way” is a heavier track on the album with harsh vocals, faster drums and guitar work, yet maintains a heavy focus on the keyboard work, making this song a great blend of styles. “In this place we all die alone.” A bold statement is made with this song both lyrically and musically and the band should really be proud of this sound they’ve ended up with here. It’s extremely unique and quite the pleasant listen all around.
Anette Olzon Blyckert, best known for her work as the more recent vocalist of Nightwish sings on track four, “Cathedral Walls”. I have never really liked her for the previously mentioned band, but with this tone of music, and singing alongside Mikko Kotamäki seems to be her element. This song is astoundingly beautiful, and both vocal styles really stand out. I can’t get over how talented Mikko is, with the ability to sing me to sleep then pull off a traditional death metal vocal style so flawlessly is such a rare find. This amazing ability can also be found in “Labyrinth of London”, a song that bounces back and forth from heavy to droning while maintaining its composure as a single sound quite well.
To sum things up here, this band has yet to disappoint. As an avid fan of all of their albums this one is quickly becoming my favorite and definitely most played. The softer elements, like the clean vocals and female singing, really put forth the true emotion behind each and every track. Even the heavier songs have a way of speaking to you that I haven’t quite experienced from another doom metal band. I am absolutely looking forward to where they go from here because I cannot seem to get enough of Swallow the Sun.
[Originally written for metalholic.com]