without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
For the artwork for their hotly anticipated and extremely well-marketed third album, Swallow the Sun traded in the bust of a naked lady which adorned their previous effort for, of all things, a picture of a door knob. Sadly this transition from the tantalizing to the mundane also marked their music, which suddenly lost its solid death doom erection of yester-album and went embarrassingly droopy.
Having departed Firebox Records' gloomy roster to rub shoulders with Bodom and a whole lot of goth-rock bands on Spinefarm, Swallow the Sun found themselves with enough money to make a music video. They also found that they were expected to record a catchy song to go with said video, and 'Don't Fall Asleep' was born. As it happens, the progressive guitarwork and atmospheric clean vocals of this track provide easily one of the best cuts here, amongst a number of tracks which almost but not quite passed as decent death-doom. The amount of ideas being tossed around on the the album seem a little wasted when only about three of the tracks puts these ideas to good use throughout their runtime.
These ideas, when tossed around however, are pretty good. The almost symphonic, rousing opening of 'Hope' sounds like it could lead into something pretty devastating, but the polite guitars and vocals of the verse just suck the feeling out of the song, while the pumping power chords and throaty death vocals later on move into a chorus that is just a bit boring. With the flawed areas removed there is an excellent three-minute doom/ death song in here, but as it is I'm not a fan of flabby music. The marching death/ doom of 'The Justice of Suffering' is augmented by Jonas Renkse's ghostly voice, but just fails to really gel or hold any emotional power, dependent as it is on very recycled Ghosts of Loss riffs. However, the jumping guitar lines and rolling drums of 'These Hours of Despair' lead into some truly awesome chugging that sets the scene for the end of the world nicely, making use of sinister croaked vocals and cinematic synths. No complaints here.
Similiarly, 'Doomed to Walk the Earth', with its groaning, repeating main riff and mournful epic closing stands far out from the crowd on the last half of the album. It's big, it's focused, and it's bloody good. The weeping guitars that creak across the song's motif are just chilling. 'Too Cold For Tears' uses echoing crystallic keyboards across a minimal instrumental backdrop, and although the pounding heavier parts replete with soggy death growls remind of Ghosts of Loss and in a good way this time, despite that, the rest of this kind of sounds like doom metal lounge music. 'The Empty Skies' utilises a nice, driving riff and some uncharacteristically evil Mikko rasps, coming across like Moonspell in their nastier moments and only slightly harmed by the fact that this track is also probably a bit too long and unfocussed. 'No Light, No Hope' the only track of a sensible, focussed length, relies too heavily on ideas already used in the first half of the album, and sounds a tad repetitive.
In 2007, having struck upon fame and fortune in their home country, this band just seemed incapable of staying on track, picking up a good riff or an atmospheric sound and running with it, developing it like they did with the first two albums. To return to my earlier, classy analogy, this is very much a case of a disappointing, mutually embarrassing case of droopiness ruining what looked like it was going to be a great night. It's hard to rate it; there are a couple of solidly good tracks, and a couple of others with some quality parts thrown in but spoiled by either lazy or just undeveloped songwriting. Make this your last port of call with Swallow the Sun, though if you really like them and never heard Runemagick your likely to think this is the dog's bollocks for doom/ death metal.
The album begins with the track entitled Hope which begins with a slow but quickly increasing in sound, intro that then turns into a heavy doom sound that make show immediately that the album is still as heavy as before, albeit having more clean vocals then their previous two albums. The vocals soon begin with Mikko Kotamäki utilizing clean vocals while the background is quiet and then once the guitars and drums become heavier he switches into the Doom Metal vocals that fit perfectly with the song. Plus, in the first segment of harsh vocals he says possibly my favorite line from the song which would be:
Crush my mouth, for it still sings praises to you
Run the blood out from my throat
For I'm still your's
The rest of the song is followed by more of a use on the harsh vocals whilst continuing the heavy guitars and drums. The keyboards are most likely the most important part to the song in my opinion, as they bring that signature Swallow The Sun sound that makes the band as amazing as they are.
After that 7 minute song you're quickly thrown back into the doom with These Hours Of Despair and a quick pick-up in the guitar section and a sudden burst from the vocal department. Then the listener is shown into a more dark style of vocals but still a melodic style of guitar playing. It's the chorus and that seals the song for me and then to have the verse afterwards is just extra icing on the cake. After the chorus they introduce the third verse which is much slower and goes to back to the dark vocals that were shown at the beginning of the song. It's truly quite a masterpiece of a song for being only 6 minutes long.
Now, the first and only guest appearance on the album is shown on The Justice Of Suffering which features Jonas Renkse of Katatonia reciting the chorus for the song. Meanwhile the rest of the song still has Mikko at the helm of the vocals while he performs the heavy parts in the song. After the chorus is performed for the second time the song is met with a more slowed down part and Jonas performing the next verse and Mikko concluding the verse with the dark vocals that have been showcased through most of the song. Then the song finishes with the chorus, once again sung by Jonas and ending the song in a slow, decreasing keyboard element.
And now for my favorite song on the album, Don't Fall asleep (Horror Pt. 2) which features my favorite lyrics on the album and has more use of clean vocals from Mikko then the rest of the album. the repetition used in the guitars while the chorus is sung helps add to the effect of the song, not to mention the constant use of the line Don't Fall Asleep. And about three-quarters through the song you get quite the clever use of the keyboards and other instruments, interchanging to create an original sound that hasn't been on their previous songs. This song was also made into a video which uses an edited version of the song for the purpose of the video which can be seen below.
Here is where the album transitions into more of a Doom Metal sound with the last four tracks being more heavier but transitioning in well to fit with the first half. Too Cold For Tears begins with the slow clean vocals and then alternates between those and the doom vocals that make up the latter half of the album. Plus the song features some harsh vocals that make the album have some Melodic Death elements which is good and bad at the same time. Nevertheless, it's still a Melodic Doom Metal song and is created with a sound not heard before. You would think that the song being nine minutes would mean that it would get boring eventually but STS manage to make it entertaining still with the crushing feeling that the guitars give and drums mixed together give and then the keyboards coming in to break long periods of silence as to show that there is movement still within the song and that it's building up to something big. In this case, it does actually build up to something which is good.
The next two songs The Empty Skies and No Light, No Hope are heavy as was built up to by the previous song but they tended to not be as entertaining as the previous songs for some reason. It might have just been that I thought it was trying too hard to be heavy when they could've maybe been better as slower songs. No Light, No Hope does however feature some catchy parts that showcase melody still. It just didn't overwhelm me like the rest of the album did.
Finally, the album hits the final track, Doomed To Walk The Earth, which as an ending to the album, is great. It doesn't use clean vocals and it keeps true to the heavier side that they have been exhibiting for the last couple tracks. It still shows it has melody but remains the heaviest track on the album. It also has some female vocals that are more just a light noise in the background then anything else. It really doesn't require them but I'm not going to complain since female vocals are always a plus in my books. If you enjoy the song then you will most likely enjoy other Doom Metal bands as well like November's Doom. This song also was turned into a video and the video itself is a direct sequel to the Don't Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2) video. The video is shown below and features an edit of the song once again.
Overall, the album is an amazing addition to any metal fans collection. It showcases all of Swallow The Sun's strong points and what has made them popular. It has some sections that aren't up to par with the rest of the album but they are easy enough to ignore due to the sheer amounts of awesome within the rest of the songs. It's definitely contending for my favorite album by these guys and they are set to release another album this September which I cannot wait for.
This band is in the business of being gloomy. They've been whipping the horses a bit since that lumbering behemoth Ghosts of Loss, and their hearse has picked up a bit of pace as a result. What's evident right out of the box is that these guys have been practising with their spit and polish - the arrangements, orchestration and yeah, even the individual playing has had the screws tightened in a big way. Miko Kotamäki's clean vocals are getting better with each release (though he's got some big-time assistance in the form of guest vocal perfomances by Jonas Renkse from Katatonia and Tomi Joutsen from Finnish compatriots Amorphis) and his growl's still that familiar full-throttle roar. Somehow though, there's still something holding it back from topping the quality of their debut - perhaps the added slickness and the hometown hero status they've attained since the early days have robbed them of the outright despair that most fledgling bands wear like a badge.
Minor peeves aside, there's quite a bit here for those who like the death/doom formula. The title track and The Justice of Suffering pull off the mid-tempo catchy dirge angle remarkably well and Don't Fall Asleep, despite having to live with a totally defeatist name, is another high point, going through the flow between tranquility and the heavy sound in a smooth, pleasing manner. In fact, if not for the extreme growls and the occasional prohibitive length, a lot of these tracks could be considered radio-ready. Towards the end, Doomed to Walk the Earth evokes shades of their earlier gloomy brilliance, from the evil rumblings in the beginning, the creepy orchestral/piano bits worked into the middle and finally, the way it builds up to a hauntingly beautiful close.
The remaining tracks are alright, though they seem to have their fair share of filler here and there, and the album does seem to drag like an overloaded mule towards the middle. The songs that work, however, are worth the price of entry. So, for those of you who like the symphonic death/doom trip and don't have any hardline principle against occasionally skipping tracks, this is definitely worthy of your attention. Hope is a pretty appropriate title in that regard - there's still some of it left.
The title of Swallow the Sun's third studio offering is a paradox. The album, titled Hope, is anything but hopeful. It is an album of despair, melancholy and ache; a piece so emotional it may very well cause emotional people to tear up. This may not be the Finnish band's heaviest record to date, but what it lacks in pure heaviness it certainly more than makes up for in melody and sheer beauty. Do not be fooled, Hope is a very heavy record, but just like Swedish progressive metal masters Opeth, Swallow the Sun manages to be heavy and at the same time produce melodies that range from captivating to touching.
The album starts out in a pretty similar fashion to Ghosts of Loss. Hope is a song that starts out with clean guitars accompanying Mikko Kotamaki's clean vocals and then going into a heavier riff accented by his deep growl. The entire song keeps recreating the pace of the band's previous offering, which might misguide first-time listeners to feel a sense of Déjà vu, even though the song sounds considerably different and is much shorter than the appropriately-named The Giant. This feeling is immediately mitigated by the following tune, These Hours of Despair, which marks the shift towards the more melodic emotional impact that's the theme of this album. The beginning might lead you to think this is a relatively fast-paced song as it starts with a pretty intense riff and double-bass drumming which might remind listeners of Novembers Doom's latest, The Novella Reservoir. However, the song swiftly surprises us with a hypnotizing guitar riff so brilliantly simple the mind boggles; it's just one palm-muted note repeated several times in a rhythmic fashion, accented by the drums and excellent keyboard work – the entire song has a sort of hypnotic feel to it. From here on, the album just keeps getting more melancholic and impressive. The Justice of Suffering incorporates Katatonia leadman Johan Renkse's clean vocals in another chorus that encourages the eyes to close and the mind to lose itself in this sea of beauty. While Renkse's vocals are indeed excellent, they also overshadow Kotamaki's clean vocals, which often sound a little off-key.
These three opening tracks set the stage and once they're done listeners should know they're in for quite a ride. Hope isn't much of an album made of entire memorable songs, it's more of an album that consists of really memorable moments. Each and every song on it is spectacularly, marvelously moving with just enough of the emotional impact that a melodic doom/death band should create. However, it's the small moments that make each song memorable on its own. For example, on the album closer, Doomed to Walk the Earth, there are very subtle-yet-powerful female operatic vocals in the background of what is quite possibly the band's darkest song to date. Another good example of it is a song called The Empty Skies. This song, in my humble opinion, is the band's best, most-versatile song ever. The main melody in this song is moving to the point where it might interrupt whatever you might be doing while listening to it. As amazing as it is, it's not the main melody that gives the song such a punch. It's not even the ever-changing, almost progressive feel it creates with some excellent vocals and riffing. It's a moment of buildup where the song prepares the listeners, as if telling them to look out for the emotional punch it is about to deliver. And it does deliver. This portion of the song, played between the 04:10 and the 05:58 marks is one of my favorite musical moments of all time. It's really that powerful, words cannot really describe it.
The production on this masterpiece is excellent. The band has developed a certain sound that's instantly recognizable and fixed some of the problems that were apparent on previous albums, like a deep, unbalanced sound that understates the music. This time the instruments are well-balanced and none of them overshadow the others. Whether it's the drums, guitars, keyboards, bass or Kotamaki's vocals, everything is given exactly the accent it needs and the entire sound of the album benefits as a result. Speaking of Kotamaki's vocals, thankfully his varied growl is put to awesome use on Hope. One of the things that bothered me on the band's two previous outings is that the growls were pretty monotonous and there was a sort of squeak to them that occasionally turned me off. These problems were addressed here – he uses both his deep, menacing gurgle and his high-pitched, almost black-metal-ish screams, sometimes at the same time to create a powerful, demonic menace. There's no squeaking at all and the lyrics are easy enough to make out. As stated above, his clean vocals are still a bit off, though this isn't bothersome one bit.
Once the album is done and the room fills with silence, it's hard to fault Hope for anything, really. It's an album at least as powerful as a well-made drama, packed with emotional moments that will have the listener, as said, hypnotized for 57 minutes and even longer if you decide to purchase the special edition, which includes a Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus cover called These Low Lands [originally Alavilla mailla]) that comes with a complete translation to English. Either way, Hope is a marvelous record that should be owned by any fan of doom metal or melodic metal in general. This is definitely one of the, if not the, best doom metal album of 2007 and a successful step forward for the band that also marks its best creation so far. This album really has me pumped up for whatever material the band will release in the future, but they're going to have their work cut out for them – this titan is going to be a true challenge to surpass.
Finland’s Swallow The Sun have been a Doom favorite ever since the release of their lauded The Morning Never Came and Ghosts Of Loss has long been a personal favorite of mine as well, so when I tracked down a copy of their 2007 full-length Hope, I was excited. However, my excitement abated when I realized that they hadn’t begun to top the previous two albums.
Swallow The Sun play a melodic death/doom mix that has recently been gaining popularity within the metal scene and to their credit, they play it very well. They go back and forth between monstrous riffs and clean interludes regularly, giving each song its own feel and pacing, which in Doom is always a boon. The keyboards take less precedence on this album than their previous efforts, which is truly a shame as my favorite part of this band has always been their atmospheres. Few are as good as keyboardist Aleksi Munter at creating an overwhelming feeling of dread and despair through the use of his ethereal progressions. The guitarists also deserve a mention on this album, because they are one of the few elements that seem to be stepped up on a large scale. Both Juha and Markus trade off leads seamlessly and keep things interesting. The melodies are very dominate, but too often resort to the same minor harmonics and other painful clichés in any sort of melodic metal.
My biggest complaint with Hope is the vocals. Gone are the overwhelming guttural roars and raspy screams laden with desperation. Vocalist Mikko seems very subdued in his delivery and it sounds rather routine. The drumming is also a step down from their previous works, although that is most likely a product of the wimpy production this disc received. Doom needs to be bass heavy, and yet the entire bottom section seems to be missing. Older Swallow The Sun would make me jump when the heavy parts thundered in, but Hope doesn’t follow suit.
The lyrics are still as morbid as ever, with the predominate theme being love lost. The vocal delivery, as lackluster as it is, is still well timed within the context of the song and at times feels like another method of percussion. But again, due to a lack of punch and conviction, what could have been a major highlight for Hope merely makes an interesting side note.
Overall, this is decent effort, but as I and many of their fans know, Swallow The Sun is more than capable of topping Ghosts Of Loss. Hopefully with their next effort, they take the time to work out production issues and bring back those factors that made them one of my favorite melodic Doom bands.
Swallow the Sun has become one of my many favorite
bands within the last year or so. A perfect combination of melodic death with doom/death Metal. I especially enjoy the versatility of the band to play more mid-paced doom ('The Justice of Suffering', 'Hope') as well as some in a funeral pace ('Too Cold For Tears', 'Doomed to Walk the Earth', [the end of] 'Don't Fall Asleep').
The lyrics are quite well written, though the story lines about haunting atmosphere, psychotic love and horror stories make for quite an experience. Vox themselves are surprisingly deep and powerful in the growls and the very creepy, on pitch singing makes for a winning combination. The guitars while not over complicated, are beautifully melodic, melancholic and orchestrated within the rhythms. The bass actually adds to the movement instead of taking away the tempo (taking the music further away from the funeral doom genre) and deepens the intensity of each chord it helps to finish off. The keyboards are very chill and well suited in the background of the music. I don't know how good the sound would come out without them actually. They seem to be the curtain behind the performance: remove them and you'll reveal the ugly inter-working pieces and processes behind the band. The drumming is really quite well placed on this album. The drummer manages to be complex within a doom pace and at the same time maintains a certain simplicity and flow. Almost as if calculating every guitar riff 4 seconds before it happens, the small fills and quick small cymbal work is impressive and could be considered a signature.
As we know, there is the song for which Jonas Renkse of Katatonia did guest vocals. It's not bad, kinda catchy at times. Did anyone pick up on that the riff at the :30 mark as well as at 2:24 seems eerily similar to the beginning of Murder (see: Brave *Murder* Day album)...? hmmm... Maybe I just smoke too much. ha. The Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus cover, released just 2 months after the official split-up announcement, translated to 'These Low Lands' (which seems ironic to translate by the way) fits nicely into the Swallow the Sun slow paced sound. Simplistic with incredible sound layers, like a gigantic storm front pushing it way through the sky, it also has a folky/melodic feel to it. Also we have the sequel to 'Horror' (see: The Morning Never Came album) being the single. When I first heard this record, this was my favorite song. It had everything; epic, eerie atmosphere, a catchy melody, an almost satirical breakdown (you would understand that better if you lived near my local scene), and powerfully brutal funeral march at the end. It really is what made me listen to this record, but during such, I learned to enjoy the real unique thing about this album. On further studious examination of this album I came to find that there were numerous memorable riffs, melodies and drum compositions (being a drummer myself). In every song (least though in 'The Justice of Suffering' and 'Don't Fall Asleep') there are NOT SO OBVIOUS little complexities that make this band so majestically solid and still fragile and dark.
Maybe I'm painting a picture here that only I can appreciate, but give it a listen and you decide for yourself.
Right. What we have here is a Finnish masterpiece when it comes to doom metal. I read one review of this album, and went off right away to buy it. I’ve never ever bought a CD that brings as much feelings up to the surface as this one. Several times, I found myself having gooseflesh all over, solely because of the unbelievable atmosphere StS manages to create.
The album starts with the song Hope, which is also the album title. Either the band is mocking the users, or they have a strange form of humour, since “hope” is mentioned in all songs but two, and I’ve never encountered a CD that radiates such hopelessness as this one does.
Well, on to the music, then. As I said, Hope starts the slow, dark trip toward the hopelessness the listener will probably feel after listening to this record, if he/she isn’t completely emotionless. It starts with a nice guitar, that builds up slowly, then in kicks the drums, which, I think, sound excellent on this one. Pasanen has got rid of his usual style to do too much work with the drums, and now he manages to keep it simple when it fits in the song. Then Kotamäki starts to sing, with a beautiful, clean voice. He sings the first verse clean, but when the chorus comes, the growl starts. I like Kotamäki’s voice, he manages to even growl in a way that still makes it possible to hear what he’s singing.
All this, wrapped up in an emotion- and melody-filled song. The guitar is pretty clean, nothing to complain about here, either. And the lyrics – so hopeless it could make a grown-up man cry. All in all an excellent start for the album.
Right after comes “These Hours of Despair”, a tad faster than “Hope”, and probably one of the fastest, if not the fastest song on the album, which still doesn’t mean it’s fast. I really like the drums on this one, especially in the tempo-filled beginning. Kotamäki starts his singing almost immediately, whispering this time, but soon turning it into the familiar growl from their earlier albums. Also, the guest female “vocals” on the track are worth a mention. She doesn’t sing, but is in a chore in the background, building up the emotion of the song.
Many of you may now Katatonia, and Jonas Renkse. He’s starring on guest vocals on the third track on the album, “The Justice of Suffering”. It’s really a bit sad that Kotamäki and Renkse sound pretty alike when Kotamäki is singing cleanly. Of course, on this track he leaves the clean bits to Renkse and concentrates on the growling. Renkse wrote much of this tracks lyrics, and you can feel the difference in the song. He seems to steal almost all the attention from the original artist.
Off then, to the single song of the album, “Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror, pt. 2). Maybe a little odd choice, if you ask me, to pick this a single, since this is the song on the album that sounds least like StS used to on the earlier records. The keyboards on this track is one thing you’ll notice, they’re not used too much, but still, they are an essential part of the song. Kotamäki’s clean voice lays a calm over the already calm song, and then, again, in the chorus part, hell breaks loose. The guitar sounds simply awesome on that part, really, really nice. Here, too, you can hear the female voice in the background, which adds a nice flavour to the song.
The longest song on the album, “Too Cold for Tears”, starts very slow, very calm and soothing, as if preparing for a funeral or something. Kotamäki manages to sound so hopeless again, that it almost brings tears to one’s eyes when listening to this. A little odd way to sing this, he sings the verse first clean, then repeats it growling. Not really one of the greatest songs on the album. The next, “Empty Skies”, ain’t so special, either. The lyrics are pretty boring if you compare them to the other songs on the album, and there’s nothing really special about it.
“No Light, No Hope” has a nice bass in the beginning, and the main riff is worth a mention, too. This song is the only one under five minutes on the album, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. I don’t think it would have been as good, had it been any longer than it is.
The second last track of the album is THE reason this album should be bought. “Doomed To Walk the Earth” starts really, really slowly, and Kotamäki makes some really good singing on this, maybe his best performance on the album. The depressive emotion that seems to spread from his voice takes a hold of you and refuses to let go before the track is over. From the beginning to the end, when he, with his heart-breaking, harsh growl sings “I am doomed to walk this Earth”, and again with the female singer backing it all up. Also, the music stagnates in the middle of the song. StS are not afraid to let everything drive to an almost complete halt, where there's only some faint melodies playing in the background. It's used to build up the emotion in the song and it works really, really well.
It should have ended with that song, but the digipack version has one bonustrack, “These Low Lands”, which doesn’t exactly impress me. Of course, it's not their original song, but a cover of the Finnish band Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus, so it's not really their style, anyway. Nothing wrong with the cover, though.
The lyrics is found in the booklet to all songs, but not the last. It’s a shame, really, to leave one track out. I would comment on the lyrics more, if I could find words to express how I feel them, but sadly I don't. They have to be heard together with the music, otherwise they'll lose their magic. Otherwise, the artwork is really great, and personally I prefer the digipack artwork before the original.
If you like doom, you almost surely like this. It doesn’t really get better. I have listened to this album ever since it was published, and I still haven’t got enough. It simply MUST be experienced. Go. Buy it. Now.
This album has been getting a lot of good reviews, so eventually I picked it up. I love all things doom and figured that this would keep me entertained for a while. While entertaining it is not nearly as good as some of the reviews I’ve read make it out to be.
In terms of sound I’m reminded a lot of both Opeth and Saturnus. However when broken down there are three main categories that all the songs on this album are based around, the vocals, the keyboards and the 4-string guitar. The bass is rare (for a doom metal album this doesn’t bide well) and the drums are reduced to a mere timing device.
Half of the tracks on here (tracks 1 through 3 and 7) sound like mere filler tracks, all of them lack any real power. Anytime something has the word melodic in front of it, I brace myself for something like this. Hope is no different; four outstanding tracks exist on here (which I will glorify later) then the remainder which just make the album long enough to be considered a proper full length.
The guitar riffs on here don’t sound difficult and the riffs blend right into to the melody so most people don’t give it a second though. However with several long songs the lack of any real change can get a little bothersome. “These Hours of Despair” sounds exactly like “The Justice of Suffering” and so on, same sounding riffs and melody, same keyboards; the only difference is the vocals.
The first three tracks follow along the same until things pick up with the very catchy “Don’t Fall Asleep”. This song sounds a lot in the same vein as the first three tracks, but the killer chorus seems to make it sit better. “Too Cold for Tears” picks up the pace a little and they finally get the epic parts to sound right. This track would have made a perfect album closer, because they really don’t recover beyond that.
As I said above “Too Cold for Tears” one of the few tracks where they get the keyboards to sound right, throughout the album keyboard melodies pop up and add more beauty to the sound. However keyboards usually just add flair to something and this album really doesn’t need that much flair. Several of the riffs (and a lot of the drumming) end up getting masked by them, which always ends up bothering me.
While the concept of keyboard use can be debated by metal heads for hours (and some may disagree with the above paragraph) the lack of the bass sound on this album is a down right travesty. Matti got an easy job for this album; several of the tracks have an almost non existent bass guitar sound. I went nuts when I herd the bass intro for “The Empty Skies” because that is the only time this album really does sound heavy.
The drumming on this album sounds like a mere attempt to keep time, and the majority of the time sounds as non existent as the bass. If this is a mixing problem I can understand because I have seen it happen before, but the drum lines were written that way on purpose I really have no clue what the band could have thought that would accomplish.
Mikko does a nice job on vocals. His growl sounds very polished, and at times does get very tormenting. The clean vocals are really what add a gloomy feel towards them though especially on “Don’t Fall Asleep”. The almost whispered tone is very haunting and adds a glimpse of hope to the dreary nature of the songs. “Doomed to Walk the Earth” has backing vocals done by a choir as well which improve the epic feel that the band seems to create with there sound.
Despite the overall lack of bass and drums I can still sit through this album. It’s alright, and there is hope for the bands future albums (they already sound like they got a good fan base). With all great albums someone eventually comes along and says it is flawed, so I would recommend previewing this somehow before you buy it. If you like Opeth, While Heaven Wept, or Saturnus you might get into this.
The first time that I heard of Swallow the Sun was through New York's Ballet Deviare, a ballet composed to heavier music. As soon as I heard them, I decided to pick up The Morning Never Came and Ghosts of Loss. I was instantly amazed by the feeling that came over me. A sense of despair and loss is always felt while listening to anything by Swallow the Sun, simply because the sad melodies and doom elements are too much for any metalhead to shrug off as a simple musical enchantment. To say the very least, Swallow the Sun's work is beautiful and well put together. They always create the exact atmosphere that they are working toward with their albums.
Hope is no different. I have been excited for this album for several months, ever since I heard of a new album in the works. I knew that it would be amazing, but I underestimated this album by far. The first track, the title track, had me instantly attached and captivated to the swirling soundscapes of guitar melodies, clean and harsh vocals, keyboards, and simple but unique drumming patterns. Kotamäki never fails to surprise me with his inherent ability to switch from clean vocals to deep, harsh growls. Both styles of voice mix well with the music, and add to the feeling of despair that is constantly looming over the musical atmosphere.
Raivio and Jämsen both hold their own as metal guitarists, interlacing heavy open notes with soaring solos and chords that are higher up. Nothing technical or even that difficult is played. But hey, thats doom metal, right? I didn't hear too much bass work on Hope, but it's always there when it is necessary and needed. (which is a good thing once in a while).
Aleksi Munter uses the keyboard as more than an instrument. The beautiful sound of the keys soars high above the rhythmic undertones and adds even more to the epic atmosphere of everything. The constant atmosphere and looming sense of sadness add so much to the music. It makes this album so beautiful, and by far worth listening too.
I recommend this album to a true metal fan, one who is prepared to hear something that's not a constant blast beat or an anti-christian bitchfest. The music is simple, but the atmosphere is far from it. This album is beautiful and definitely one of my all-time favorites.
After being disappointed by Swallow the Sun's "Ghosts of Loss" album i thought it will be better to carefully check the new album "Hope" before it's officially released.
Disappointement turned to admiration. Swallow the Sun changed for good, this is perfection in it's entirety, although the songs seem a bit monotonous, nothing really new but things are done so well in a unique style, each song attract you in a different way, hold you like no other.
The lyrics as usual: poetic, sorrowful and depressive (not for people in a good mental state) haven't noticed any changes, accomplish just what they set out to do and fit very well with the music.
The music itself being amongst the saddest you might ever imagine, it can be described as melancholic, very dark and emotional creating a depressive atmosphere, a typical doomy one.
Mikko Kotamäki vocals are simple, typical death metal but suit the music well, some rare changes in vocal styles mixing death with clean vocals. The keyboards parts sound convincing adding extra effects, not too upfront or too loud, mixed with melodic, heavy, distorted guitars, loud bass and raw drums catching attention quite often taking you to another level, another world of darkness and loss.
The most magnificent track is "Don't Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2)" a perfect example of the darkness of the album, dominated by slow, depressive clean vocals really inspire melancholy, while harsh vocals turns the atmosphere to a real horror and obscure one. This song is highly recommended for all doomsters and dark music lovers.
Overall, an excellent album, a must for Doom/Death Metal lovers, this is a huge accomplishment the darkest work of the band ever.
Highlights: Hope, Don't Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2), Too Cold For Tears, Doomed to Walk the Earth, mainly all the album!