Label: Century Media, release November 13, 2015
Maybe it was not just me who got so impatient that I walked into the store 2 weeks too early because my memory had played tricks on me… but this week it is finally going to happen, and I can lay my hands (literally) onto the latest release of those Finnish Masters of Melancholy.
Strangely enough, the digital sneak peek for review purposes did not cool down the anxiety… ”Songs From The North” is definitely a milestone for Swallow The Sun’s career, which started back then in 2003, and the author of these lines felt totally blown away by their debut The Morning Never Came …
A bold move of STS with their first release via their new label Century Media (and with new drummer Juuso Raatikainen): THREE full length albums – part 1 more than 59, part 2 almost 42 and part 3 almost 52 minutes long – from a band that never did what you should do for wider commercial success … Therefore it says everything about the quality of the ”not-under-7-min” epic melodic Doom songs of those Finns who could make their mark on the Metal scene.
STS do once again what they can do best: making sinister melancholy so appealing that you gladly give yourself over to darkness in order to dwell in it, and somehow it even makes you happy.
Part 1 is dedicated to the epic-melodic massive sounds, from ”1 drumbeat per minute” to catchy groove, and there are even some evil Black Metal moments (10 Silver Bullets). Singer Mikko Kotamäki showcases his versatility, from intense whispers and clean vocals to brutal inhuman growling – what a remarkable development of this rather shy front man, in all those years.
Heartbreakingly beautiful melodies with orchestral accents remind you of the early days of this band (With You Came… or Brutal Silhouettes), occasionally you find Prog-Rock elements. Memory of Light might be what this band defines as a Pop song, a slightly lighter feeling and much more Melodic Metal stylish, this track foreshadows part 2.
Which starts with a ”horror movie” atmosphere incl. howling wolves, yet the following 7 songs are united in their rather playful dreamy ballad-esc atmosphere (when compared to part 1). The Heart of a Cold White Land is a wonderful ballad which might be the future all-time-super hit of the band. Same for the title track where Mikko channels Johnny Cash, dueting with Kaisa Vala (and also Aleah contributes guest vocals to several songs). Why the coordinates of Posio, Finland, at Karhujärvi became the topic of an instrumental song, eludes me so far, but I hope to solve the riddle in the upcoming interview with the band.
Somehow I guessed it – with part 3 the party is over. Ominous, gloomy, doom from hell where Black Metal gives several guest appearances (yet without blast beats), and Mikko releases his most brutal growling. Empires of Loneliness has your jaw drop, because those guys did it again, with ease – combining brutality, horror and massive riffs with incredibly catchy tunes. So sad and still so beautiful – a great song! An even greater 3-album-release!
Finally there’s only one question – will those guys play 3h gigs in the future, or how can they manage to perform all their hit songs live – remember how many there are from previous albums?
Well, you can find out for yourselves as by Nov 26 they start their EUROPEAN TOUR