Swallow The Sun - Lumina Aurea
Century Media
Ambient Melancholic
1 songs (13'43")
Release year: 2018
Swallow The Sun, Century Media
Reviewed by Alex

My older kid just left for college after a short winter break, the guys at work screwed up a large costly batch of product, the facility audit was looming in a few days, I stabbed my toe - I thought I was having a bad week. Sitting and looking through my inbox I discovered Swallow the Sun - one of my favorite melodic doomdeath bands - is going to release a new album in the early 2019, but for now the single Lumina Aurea is out. So I thought I’d follow the usual path Swallow the Sun takes me on – cleansing of the mind through moody grief – and Lumina Aurea would be just the vehicle. Equipped with the video, I thought this would be precisely an experience I needed. Boy, was I wrong, and “having a bad week” notion was really put in perspective by Lumina Aurea as well …

It is very clear, and also by self-admission, that Juha Raivio is still grieving the loss of his girlfriend Aleah Stanbridge. First releasing Hour of Nightingale by Trees of Eternity (Aleah’s band) and then continuing to go in the sorrowful but heavier direction with Hallatar was not enough for Juha to dull the pain. Lumina Aurea is no Hallatar’s No Stars upon the Bridge, however. Nor is it Swallow the Sun more expected fair either, and thus it is absolutely proper Lumina Aurea is not a part of the upcoming When a Shadow is Forced into the Light. For that matter, if Swallow the Sun name didn’t appear on the single, you could have had difficult time giving the attribution.

If Hour of Nightingale was ethereal beautiful flight, and No Stars upon the Bridge drifted into much heavier doom territory, Lumina Aurea is pure numbness on the inside. Juha Raivio admitted if he wrote the whole album worth of Lumina Aurea he could have gone insane. I can see why. Minimalistic ambient music, mostly provided through synth not guitars, with percussion done using tribal instrumentation, not standard drum kit – Lumina Aurea nevertheless provides a palpable sense of something about to go tragic at the very next second. This is almost 14 min of buildup which doesn’t really explode, but there is no relief in sight either, and that is exactly why Lumina Aurea is maddening. This is not just nature inspired ambient atmospheric music, but something written by an individual who was hoping to find escape through this avenue and miserably failed in doing so. Going down the same path for the whole album, hoping to achieve the same purpose, was practically suicidal. Instead of soft caress, the emptiness and void would simply deepen. Inviting Einar Selvik (Wardruna) to participate was just the right move, since Wardruna sets their music with similar instrumental disposition, only in many ways more shamanistic and Scandinavian nature inspired.

Experiencing Lumina Aurea while watching the video maximizes the feeling. Set in Lapplandia, in some frozen forest and fjord beauty, two mysterious black robe clad figures act their parts. What looks more like a male, with the head covered by an animal skull, just beats the tambourine or native percussion drum skin and never moves. This is the impersonation of death inevitability. The other figure, shaped more like a female, is also covered in all black, including the veil over her head, goes through the motions of being first tied up spread on the frozen forest floor, then standing up being tied up with same ropes, then walking through the forest dragging the ropes behind, and finally ending up sitting all alone on the boat, no oars, in the middle of the fjord. Throughout it all, there is never a feeling the figure has a chance of escaping the shackles, be it the ropes or the frozen surroundings. Instead, at any moment, and definitely inspired by the minimalistic synth melodies, I expected either blood starting to flow from under the veil or the boat suddenly overturning taking the figure under water. Nothing like that happens, which only leaves the feeling of non-resolution, and horror, still to come.

Devoting the whole page of review to a 13 min single may have been over the top, especially without personal communication, and thus complete understanding, of the artist’s expressions. Yet feeling strongly about the hope of Juha pulling out of the emotional abyss, I want to close by the motto Lumina Aurea itself expresses: Death is stronger than Life, Love is stronger than Death. It needs to be Aleah’s love that eventually pulls Juha through the loss.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted no quote
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
To see all 7 reviews click here
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