Swallow The Sun - New Moon
Spinefarm Records
Melodic Doomdeath
8 songs (53'45")
Release year: 2009
Swallow The Sun, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Alex

This review was going to be difficult to write on a personal level. A few years ago, when Swallow the Sun was touring the US with Insomnium and Katatonia, a friend of mine and her husband were going to accompany me to catch the show in Cleveland where they lived. Just a few days before the event the unthinkable happened. My friend’s husband committed suicide. It is not my place to discuss the circumstances, but needless to say I wasn’t going to Cleveland. All of us who knew this couple were crushed by this tragedy. In part to reassure myself that life goes on and in part to egotistically garner some lone time to comprehend the weight of this heartbreak, I went to the show next day in Detroit. There, while in the middle of the opening act, I noticed Swallow the Sun guitarist Juha Raivio standing not far away from me. He seemed very surprised that I recognized him in the crowd and we spent quite some time discussing the band and the tour. Somehow that conversation helped to put my mind to ease. I left that show with a still pensive heart, but completely enamored with Swallow the Sun hypnotic delivery and stage presence.

For those of us who are still looking for The Morning Never Came I find New Moon to be closer to Hope. And if for some it means that Swallow the Sun still has not reached the peak of its first album, I disagree, as I truly enjoyed both hefty and fragile cleansing sounds that Hope brought. That album spent quite a bit of time in my player, and I still come back to it from time to time. Thus, it seemed, at least in the beginning, that New Moon began where Hope ended. The two albums share a connection, but it did take me a week to grasp New Moon, while Hope carried a lot more immediacy.

Swallow the Sun melodic doomdeath style is still a perfect accompaniment to pure autumn grief. The deathy parts are still tossing and turning the boulders of hardship and fluid guitar leads are soothing in their repetitiveness. Melancholy is oozing from every pore, melodies like the one in the opener These Woods Breathe Evil give a sense of metallic estrangement and aloofness.

At the same time that tour must have influenced the Finns substantially, as many riffs on New Moon bear the alarmist, siren-like imprint so reminiscent of the guitar sound from the mid-era Katatonia. If These Woods Breathe Evil has only some moments of resemblance and the title track has a very characteristic entry, then Falling World borrows from the Swedes heavily, including Mikko Kotamaki clean vocals sounding close to what Jonas Renkse would have done with this melody and lyrics. The riffing on these tracks instills a sense of urgency, giving the impression that whatever suffering is going on, it is very acute and happening right now.

In their lasting tradition Swallow the Sun mull over many tragic guitar hooks and carry them throughout a song. New Moon compositions often tell a story, and the band does not afraid to deviate from the template to bring this narrative to life. For this purpose unusual contrasting elements are used. Female vocals in Lights on the Lake (Horror Pt. III) are pure ether, viciously interrupted by the album’s most violent almost black metal moment. Weight of the Dead is a eulogy, but not to peacefully deceased, but to someone languishing in purgatory. The monumental funeral cathedral nature of this closer ends abruptly, the sound being cut off suddenly, just like it happens in life sometimes. To tell these stories Mikko is anything but linear with his vocals. In one sentence he goes from throat tearing screams to roaring bellows to whispers and clean singing.

Then, there is also the usual, almost trademark tracks. Sleepless Swans is sweet in its grief, the song submerging slowly into watery abyss. Heavy stumble of Servant of Sorrow reminds of These Hours of Despair, where soft dreamy flight gets stifled by bulky heaviness.

Did Swallow the Sun jump onto the new plane, did they create a new paradigm with New Moon? The answer should be decidedly “no”, as the old trusted melodic doomdeath rules the day. At the same time, within this genre, the band remains completely personable, jerking a quick tear out of the corner of an eye or a momentary throat choke. This is what I personally needed from the band, despite what many would call a lack of progression.

Killing Songs :
These Woods Breathe Evil, New Moon, Weight of the Dead
Alex quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Swallow The Sun that we have reviewed:
Swallow The Sun - Lumina Aurea reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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 - 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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