Swallow The Sun - The Morning Never Came
Olympic Recordings
Melodic Doom Death
9 songs (63'12")
Release year: 2005
Swallow The Sun, Olympic Recordings
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Consider this review to be my contribution trying to separate the wheat from the chafe. It would have been easy to overlook Swallow the Sun, a young Finnish band, signed to an obscure Firebox Records label. Olympic Recordings (RIP, more on it later) stepped up to the plate and let the stateside metal fans experience this perfect blend of European melodic doom, crunchy death metal chords and a touch of gothic flavor horror.

Founded in 2000 by guitarist Juha Raivio and drummer Pasi Pasanen, Swallow the Sun (an incredible moniker, by the way) crosses over melodic doom and death genres drenching the final outcome in trademark Finnish melancholy. Swallow the Sun neither copies Katatonia’s riffs (see Rapture for that), nor does it simply rephrase My Dying Bride who they are obviously influenced by. An equal cousin to Amorphis and Yearning, Swallow the Sun has become one of my favorite young bands, along with Swedish Slumber perpetuating the long established European tradition.

With melodic doom death I have a very clear indicator on whether the album works for me or not. If I get through the album, say ho-hum and put it away – the art did not reach me on the emotional level, which is a must for this genre. If I am experiencing an almost physical pleasure, reveling in each and every song, later on reaching for the album whenever I am in need of cleansing through sorrow – put it in that portion of my CD collection I will never part with. The ranks of Yearning, Lake of Tears and few others have been joined by Swallow the Sun.

There is nothing half-baked on The Morning Never Came. Melodic parts are incredibly harmonious, beautiful, yet desperate and despondent at the same time. Knowing that deathy parts will crush and Mikko Kotamaki’s growls will tear the skin off, Juha Raivio places every tuneful cell of his songwriting in those clean mournful parts. Hold This Woe and Under the Waves wallow in the mire of self-pity while the title track sounds both tragic and serene at the same time. Swallow the Sun is the six-piece, they employ keyboards-piano and strike the perfect balance. Piano can lead off (Through the Silvery Body) only to be crushed by guitar riffs, or try and intervene against stepped up heaviness (Silence of the Womb). Synthesizers wash ashore in Deadly Nightshade or penetrate the pores in the matrix created by guitar strumming in Out of This Gloomy Light. Aleksi Munter never makes himself the centerpiece, instead giving the band depth and third dimension. Long and twisted melodic leads are provided by guitars, and it is the listener’s pick whether these relieve or increase the tension (Through the Silvery Body, title track).

On to the heavy parts. For those who need riffs Swallow the Sun come through equally as well as for those in search of melancholy. Deadly Nightshade comes in at a slightly faster rhythm than mid-tempo employed mostly on this album, and chugs along ratcheting up the drama. Swallow (Horror Pt.1) and Silence of the Womb are two heaviest tracks on the album creating the feeling of trembling in anticipation, or, very fittingly, of a dark horror movie. In that regard Mikko Kotamaki’s voice is perfect for Swallow the Sun. His growls tend be a little higher than usual hollow death vocals, which totally creates the effect of one desperate powerful cry for help. His switches from rare clean passages to growls simply rip emotionally as well.

The cover of Candlemass’ Solitude concludes the album and the band could not have picked out the better track for them to cover. Riffs are produced to be heavier, Johan Lanquist’s cleaner crooning replaced with extreme vocals makes the original sound even more potent.

This album is going to land on my top 15 of the year without a doubt and is destined for repeated play in my musical world. All I have to do right now is to go seek out the follow-up Ghosts of Loss. Hopefully, Century Media is going to pick up this band seeing how Olympic bit the dust.

P.S. For those who did not follow the news, Olympic Recordings seized to exist with US Olympic Committee suing the label for the rights to the use of the word “Olympic”. Not being able to take on the heavyweight lawyers of the USOC bureaucracy Olympic Recordings folded. Home to many excellent bands (Behemoth, Immolation, Vital Remains) the label will be sorely missed.

Killing Songs :
This is one excellent album
Alex quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Swallow The Sun that we have reviewed:
Swallow The Sun - Songs from the North reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Swallow The Sun - Emerald Forest and the Blackbird reviewed by Khelek and quoted 73 / 100
Swallow The Sun - New Moon reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
Swallow The Sun - Hope reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
Swallow The Sun - Ghosts of Loss reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
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