Swallow The Sun - Hope
Spinefarm Records
Melodic Doomdeath
8 songs (57'49")
Release year: 2007
Swallow The Sun, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Finally, I have caught up with Swallow the Sun, not having to review their albums a year or two after they see the light of day. The change comes as a result of somebody at Spinefarm recognizing what I have been seeing for a couple of years now, a young and rising melodic doomdeath band. This signing is going to lead to a much wider distribution and to the latest album’s availability on these shores through Candlelight USA, rather than some expensive import.

While the Finns knocked me off my feet with their stunning debut The Morning Never Came, the follow-up, 2005 Ghosts of Loss, did not make the same impact. Perhaps, I did not give it enough time to sink in. Hope presented me with the ever-important fork in the road. Would Swallow the Sun become one of my favorite second generation melodic doomdeath bands, or would The Morning Never Came remain a one-time jewel? The answer is in, unequivocally. My Dying Bride, Anathema and Yearning, thou worthy successor is here!

With Hope Swallow the Sun removed any traces of stagnation and plod that hindered Ghosts of Loss, in my opinion. With the exception of, maybe, Too Cold for Tears, none of the songs on the album languish even remotely. While the B-horror noire movie atmosphere of The Morning Never Came is non-reproducible, Swallow the Sun shifted the mood to a more standard, in melodic doomdeath anyway, feeling of inexpressible grief and suffering. More standard feeling does not mean sub-standard songs, execution, production or the overall product. With every cut in Hope, from the very intro of the title track to the heavy tragic melody finishing off Doomed to Walk the Earth, Swallow the Sun deliver a masterful collection of doomy riffs bathed into melodic wall of sound, expressing and transcending the feeling of melancholy, both majestic and powerful at the same time.

There can’t be talk of drag on this album with the songs like Hope itself, These Hours of Despair or The Empty Skies. These Hours of Despair even lets in little double bass sections, “fast” by Swallow the Sun standards, to combine them with so effective and beloved (in my world, anyway) reverend moments when heavy chords are combined with background synthesizers. Aleksi Munter (keyboards) does a masterful job colorizing and adding depth on Hope, while some other arrangements, like female angelic vocals on Doomed to Walk the Earth, elevate the song, genially contrasting the classic snail coffin-nailing pace. The Empty Skies is a sorrowful waltz, made very interesting rhythmically by the unusual basslines and eventual double bass crescendo.

The album is very non-linear, being full of quick acoustic interludes and percussive moments. Mikko Kotamaki follows suit and shows the range with his vocals. He is all over the place, from quiet whispers to clean Katatonia-like crooning to towering esophagus-deep growls a la Dan Swano to a more demented higher pitch tone resounding as if from the back of a throat. Mikko’s clean singing is so Katatonia-like, Jonas Renkse guesting on The Justice of Suffering could be almost unnoticeable.

Swallow the Sun blends perfectly My Dying Bride crushing heaviness, Anders Nystrom urgent melodic riffing style and profound nationwide Finnish sorrowfulness, the feeling Yearning, Insomnium and deceased Sentenced perfected. There is another criterion I always judge melodic doomdeath by that Swallow the Sun passes with flying colors. Our lives are full of problems. Mine is no exception. Yet, when I listen to Hope I manage to completely insulate myself from the worries of the world, to cleanse myself with this somber, yet ultimately uplifting music. In the end this makes a perfect sense of the album title you rarely find in doom.

Killing Songs :
Hope, These Hours of Despair, Don't Fall Asleep, These Empty Skies, Doomed to Walk the Earth
Alex quoted 91 / 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 - Ghosts of Loss reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
Swallow The Sun - The Morning Never Came reviewed by Alex and quoted 92 / 100
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