SWALLOW THE SUN- Hope (Spinefarm Records)
From the land of eternal winter comes SWALLOW THE SUN, a group of Finnish doom metallers who apparently really liked the first few albums by their fellow countrymen AMORPHIS and neighboring Swedes in KATATONIA, so thus they have created a nice little doom/melodic death metal fusion. On their new album Hope
, SWALLOW THE SUN move even further into the more refined and polished realms of death-doom, as the hints of stoner metal from their earlier material give way to a slicker, more melodically-inclined approach. Their sense of melody is clearly Finnish, as are the vocals (though Swedish and Finnish vocals in extreme metal generally sound close enough as it is). The emphasis is on atmosphere, creating a cold landscape that of course fits in with the band's homeland. Some elements of romantic/gothic doom metal do creep in at times, heralded by the use of orchestral keyboards, but they aren't as prevalent as the more tradition death-doom leanings. Fans of the style should eat this up; personally I am not a big fan of it in general, but this album is well-executed and still enjoyable nevertheless.
There are a few moments that stand out from the norm however, especially the nice contrast between classic death/doom approach and a bit of appropriately melancholic progressive elements in the album's longest song "Too Cold For Tears". Songs like "Don't Fall Asleep (Horror Pt.2)" and the nicely-titled "The Justice Of Suffering" each have memorable melodies and solid heavy riffs to make them standout, while "No Light, No Hope" is carried by a strong main riff that especially recalls MY DYING BRIDE. Vocally throughout the album there is a contrast between very guttural death metal growls and clean vocals, neither of which are remarkable but suit the music just fine. The drumming is not of notice either, competent if unmemorable. Aside from the dual guitars only the keyboards add identity to the music, helping to forge the music's depressive landscape.
Well done album, a little stale and boring at times but still overall a good record that is guaranteed to strongly appeal to any death-doom aficionados.