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A Hopeful Doom Masterpiece - 96%

SwallowTheMorning, August 2nd, 2008

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.