Giant snakes devouring the Sun. How fucked would we be?
That’s the theme for the new Swallow the Sun album entitled, New Moon. Doom metal isn’t exactly supposed to be uplifting and inspiring and Swallow the Sun doesn’t let you down in that department. Released in November on Spinefarm records, New Moon brings new layers of melody to the Finnish band.
They still have their explosive moments of intensity and pain, but with new-found moments of refinement. This is partially due to Jens Bogren’s influence on production. Jens has worked with bands like Opeth, Paradise Lost and Amon Amarth. His influence is very apparent when you listen to Swallow the Sun’s previous releases. Their sound is more climactic, atmospheric and epic on New Moon. Not typical of your run of the mill neo-progressive doom bands.
The environment is crafted by the wailing and chugging riffs of Markus Jämsen and Juha Raivio’s guitars. Mikko Kotamäki’s raspy, growling and commanding vocals mesh well with the band, including their new drummer, Kai Hahto. Matti Honkonen’s bass is almost non-existent; which is a slight complaint on my end. Aleksi Munter’s keyboards bring melodic notes to the end of “…And Heavens Cried Blood” and to the beginning of “Lights On The Lake (Horror Pt. III)”, two tracks that reign supreme over the other cuts on the album. The latter being one of the most prolific doom tracks of recent months. In fact, it’s more of a melodic or depressing black metal track with blast beats ripping their way onto the second-to-longest cut on the disk. Almost immediately as the track erupts and the waves begin to overthrow the vessel, a soft female vocalist comes over to soothe the sea.
The title track, “New Moon”, is a bit boring. There’s very little dynamicism left in the title track following “Lights On The Lake (Horror Pt. III)”. “Servant Of Sorrow” picks back up with a chugging riff and wavering keyboard tune. “Weight Of The Dead” finishes off the album with a 9-minute long anthem to the depressing world that exists inside the Finnish band’s hearts. It slumbers along until the album ceases to exist. Overall, Swallow the Sun has completed a very impressive album. If you’re a fan of Opeth, Paradise Lost and Amon Amarth, but demand a bit more depressing elegance in your doom metal, pick up this album.