Swallow The Sun - Ghosts of Loss
Firebox Records
Atmospheric Funeral Doom
8 songs (65'59")
Release year: 2005
Swallow The Sun, Firebox Records
Reviewed by Alex

And it is back to the land of depression for me. My Dying Bride started the streak with A Line of Deathless Kings, and some of the recent events in my life stayed in tune with the doom. Thus, Swallow the Sun (still one of the best monikers in metal, doom bands really have it going for them) fell on the ears primed to experience sadness.

I was admittedly late with the band’s debut The Morning Never Came, only catching up with it at the end of last year, a few years after the album was released. Nevertheless, the album made a huge impression on me, as it should with every metal fan not averse to a gloomier path, connecting on many personal levels. I am quicker now with Ghosts of Loss, the sophomore effort by this Finnish band, recorded in the early parts of 2005.

Those closer to the European shores and for whom it is easier to get CDs from the excellent up and coming Firebox label may have already experienced Ghosts of Loss. And some of the comments I have heard before purchasing the disc, frankly, had me a little prejudiced. Having the album practically live in my car for a month I am finally ready to declare that while not The Morning Never Came, Ghosts of Loss is a solid funeral doom album in its own right.

On many points the album does echo its predecessor. Steady crushing heaviness with a few atmospheric injections and deep guttural bellows of Mikko Kotamaki is overlapped with cleaner sections where Juha Raivio is piercing with his guitar tear jerking strings and Mikko following the suit by lending a cleaner voice. Swallow the Sun less heavy “all is lost” sections are simply enhancing the harshness that is to come, like the excellent back-and-forth opener The Giant or Sentenced-like beginning of Fragile. The latter song, even in its heavy portions provides a semi-clean, guitar-rich full body sound with a melody flowing so beautifully it is bound to bring physical pleasure to a listener.

While The Morning Never Came was quite a bit more about atmosphere, even in its heaviest parts sounding like a creepy horror movie, Ghosts of Loss is a lot more about funeral procession. What was the even cousin to Amorphis, Yearning and Katatonia became a permanent resident in a Shape of Despair neighborhood. There is plenty of grave despondency and hopelessness in Forgive Her … and Ghost of Laura Palmer, but while the latter picks up with the tempo towards the end, the former never rises above the plod. Psychopath’s Lair is another slow brutal deathy song that drags in the sense that it never reaches a sweetly melancholic flow. Funeral doom of Swallow the Sun is crushing in those tracks, but I can’t find the reason to tell you why you should pick the band over others in the genre with that portion of its sound alone.

It is when the band goes with the double bass supported mid-pace riff and gut wrenching melody (Descending Winters), with the atmosphere that make you want to leave the ground, stay on the continuous crescendo throughout the song in Gloom, Beauty and Despair and bring it all home with wave crushing in The Ship – that is when I feel Swallow the Sun is at their best. Simple plodding funeral doom suppresses the band’s spark, while atmospheric tunefulness brings the most emotion to their sound. The clue to take would be their vocalist. Mikko Kotamaki shows the range, not in terms of how high a note he can take, but being able to combine despondent clean singing, guttural scrapes and blackened shrieks adding to the anxiety (Forgive Her …; Gloom, Beauty and Despair).

Just by virtue of my personal attitude I have previously added Swallow the Sun to the list of the bands that I need at a time in my life when I need a way out, not only to drop my hands and say “that’s it”. Yearning and Daylight Dies would be excellent examples of that stable. Just because Ghosts of Loss was not able to do that 100% for me I am going to rank it below The Morning Never Came. Purely egotistical, I know. At the same time, almost strangely, I believe that the album was more personal to the band, and its main songwriter Juha Raivio, than the debut. Regardless of what I think, I still welcome you to the superb funeral doom that Swallow the Sun perpetuates.

Killing Songs :
The Giant, Descending Winters, Fragile
Alex quoted 83 / 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 - The Morning Never Came reviewed by Alex and quoted 92 / 100
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