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Review: Swallow the Sun - New Moon
Swallow the Sun
New Moon

Label: SpineFarm Records
Year released: 2009
Duration: 53:45
Tracks: 8
Genre: Doom/Death

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: February 1, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
Readers Rating
New Moon

Rated 4.11/5 (82.13%) (47 Votes)

Swallow the Sun are the My Dying Bride of this generation. Now that My Dying Bride is no longer the solemn and depressing force they once were, they have been replaced by the Finnish doom/death masters. Taking the drawn out composition, brooding riffs, and austere atmosphere of My Dying Bride, Swallow the Sun are now on their fourth album, and are as strong as ever. Their new album, New Moon, features a wider array of influences in comparison with their previous albums. These add to the formula that Swallow the Sun has already near perfected, to a point of overwhelming beauty and precision.

Opening up the album is the headbanging track "These Woods Breathe Evil." In classic Swallow the Sun tradition, they make this just as much an exercise in creating sweeping moods as it is in heavy riffing. Next up is one of the best songs Swallow the Sun have ever recorded in "Falling World," whose sublime chorus can reduce any metalhead to tears. Moving into more epic and tragic territory, "Sleepless Swans" is the next track, which may be inspired by the works of poet William Butler Yeats, and if so, that's really awesome. "Lights on the Lake (Horror pt III)" features eerie female clean vocals backed up by strange but evocative riffs that feel suspended in air, aimlessly floating. The grief-stricken "New Moon" follows, which conveys its sadness and moroseness through its sheer genuineness.

What's so interesting about this album is that it isn't just another cool doom/death album. Throughout New Moon, Swallow the Sun trickle in influences from black metal. "Weight of the Dead" closes out the album, and at points during the song, sounds just as much like Emperor or Marduk as it does Swallow the Sun. They haven't quite figured out how to incorporate these influences though, at times feeling like they're struggling for direction. On the other hand, they're using clean vocals more frequently than ever, and while they don't feature the quality of hallmark doom vocalists like Rob Lowe and Messiah Marcolin, they shouldn't anyway. It would distract too much from the music itself. On "New Moon" and "Falling World," the sincere pains whispered by Mikko Kotamäki convey just as much. They're inexpressibly anguished and moving.

Swallow the Sun do have a few tracks on New Moon that interrupt its otherwise consistent quality. Both "...and Heavens Cried Blood" and "Servant of Sorrow" seem unfocused and rambling, the same problems that plagued Ahab's recent album. They fail to achieve the same gripping magnitude that other songs on the album have. Even so, these songs aren't necessarily bad, just amateurish in comparison.

Swallow the Sun are one of those bands that make it exciting to be a metalhead right now. Their output has been stellar, and they show no signs of letting up. Switching up their formula slightly, they've continued to make inspired and towering doom/death. I'm already looking forward to their next album.

Other related information on the site
Review: Emerald Forest and the Blackbird (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Hope (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: New Moon (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Songs from the North I, II & III (reviewed by Bruno Medeiros)
Interview with Juha Raivo (Guitars) on November 21, 2009 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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