Album Review: SWALLOW THE SUN Songs from the North I, II & III
Creating and performing music is a fulfilling experience and process. Using the many methods and techniques, musicians have endless options and avenues to explore. Some bands enjoy sticking to a genre, while others bend the "rules" and venture into deeper waters. There's no correct or incorrect avenue to take, since the musicians do as they please. For those who favor the more creative, a more memorable and meaningful product is released. In this case, Swallow the Sun continues on their path previously trodden. A much deeper, and more serious accompaniment is apparent on Songs from the North I, II & III. This is no brutal album, it's not extremely heavy. What it is, though, cannot be expressed in a review.
This triple full-length album Songs from the North I, II & III is Swallow the Sun's sixth album, and it's broken into three separate albums. Swallow the Sun formed in 2000, and has yet to release a boring title. Each release has its own character and beauty. This Finland-based band does what they want, and although much of their music has harsh vocals, there are plenty of instrumental and singing portions through all three album of Songs From the North.
For the purpose of this review, I'll briefly describe each album, as they differ vastly in style and sound. Swallow the Sun can generally be referred as Death/doom, melodic death metal, progressive metal. Even these descriptions fail to encapsulate the broad sound and spirit of this band, it's a starting point for those not familiar with them.
Songs from the North I: This opening album is my personal favorite out of the three. It's what you would expect from the band if your familiar with their previous release Emerald Forest and the Blackbird in 2012. At 8 tracks in total, it's 59 minutes and 20 seconds. There's a strong presence of melodic doom, and the harsh vocals are beautiful. "Rooms & Shadows" combine strong harsh vocals, with melodic deep singing which breaks the song up while fusing it as a cohesive melodic body. "Heartstrings Shattering" is a strong emotional ballad with catchy lead guitar riffs and repetitive beauty that is clean enough to became a favorite track even after the first listen.
Songs from the North II: The second disk is not even metal, but still beautiful. It has a lot of acoustic songs, and basic instruments that make it sound more like a progressive rock album. Although it lacks energy when comparing it with album I and III, it's a very complementing disk. With three CD's in total, there's no need to have every release an intense experience. What disk II brings, is a pleasant balance, and although full of peaceful emotion, there's a pain laden deep within. This CD is 42 minutes and 33 seconds.
Songs from the North III: The third and final album is 51 minutes and 57 seconds. It's, without a doubt, the darkest and most doom-infused of them all. With almost all harsh vocals, long repetitive riffs that descend to the deepest of seas, this funeral doom album is now a standard when searching for a pure endless abyss of misery. The heavy guitar affects, the slow monotonous drums, and the almost guttural deep vocals set a fantastic closures to this epic release.
If you know about Swallow the Sun, you know what you are getting – experienced, emotional metal, that's a must have for the seasoned collector. Mind you, this isn't music you listen to and jam out to, it's an experience you absorb as Swallow the Sun relives the darker side of life in a medium that's brutal, but beautiful.
This album will be released in a three CD wallet booklet, and will also be available for digital download.