Review Summary: "The Morning Never Came"..... chapter 4
When Finnish melodic death/doom metal band Swallow The Sun released their 2003 album The Morning Never Came
, it was a fantastic piece of metal which showcased the depressive, slow, and rather minimalistic tendencies of doom metal. It also coupled these qualities with the bombastic ferocity of death metal to create an easily accessible piece through which the listener could venture forth into other, more classic-structured doom. This sound continued with frighteningly little deviation through 2005’s Ghosts Of Loss
and 2007’s Hope
. While the music was generally enjoyable and well-played, the ideas became more and more stagnant, reeking like a small pond in New Jersey. So now, six years later Swallow The Sun has released New Moon
, an album which, ever so surprisingly, sounds exactly the same.
The compositions are different in the sense that the notes which are played are new, but the atmosphere of the album is an immediate trigger of deja vu. The depressive and down-tuned guitars strike heavy chords which lay a base for the airy keyboard melodies to offer a bit of harmony. The album sounds extremely dark, and remains hostile and vicious throughout the runtime, but this heaviness comes off as a façade for those who have heard Swallow The Sun before, because this is the same level of brutality and melody which you’ve heard over three albums. There are songs like “…And Heavens Cried Blood” which really bring an invigorating uplift to the album, using this sense of melody and heaviness in a clever way, highlighting the slow pace of the doom influences but also injecting a really clever, really effective melody into the background which actually makes the song extremely fresh. There are instances where influences are drawn from other genres such as black metal, evident not only in some tremolo picked riffs but also a few blast beats thrown in for good measure. Also, some wonderful female vocals are used which sound amazingly relaxing and fit the atmosphere of the music with brilliant perfection.
The same cleverness which makes their usual songwriting feel fresh is sadly missing on much of the rest of the album. Most of the album wallows in the same murky, depressing, atmosphere while making the typical slow/heavy/slow/heavy transitions. The pristine production doesn’t help a boring drum department, which doesn’t really do anything outside of keeping a simple beat, something which I was expecting going into the album. The same goes for the harsh vocals, which Mikko Kotamki belt out without much trouble or error, it’s just that his vocal delivery which switches between guttural and raspy isn’t a surprise at all. They aren’t inherently bad because of this lack of change, in fact they are quite good, it’s just that the transitions between the two styles are spastic and never really follow a flowing pattern, it’s as if he went into the studio and did whatever he wanted. On the other hand, his clean vocals remain devoid of emotion and range, but do show hints of improvement (as showcased in the title track) which hopefully indicates he is going for some sort of change with his cleans.
is classic Swallow The Sun, whether you appreciate their sound or not. The songwriting is fairly solid and a couple of the tracks in the core of the album are memorable, but the beginning and ending of the album really lack that punch which will draw the listener into the album, and send them out the door in shock. If you were a hater of this band before, don’t bother with this, but if you like their sound already, there are some gems to be found within this album. While the majority of the album shows a stubborn unwillingness to evolve, some small moments really stand out and remind me about what it felt like when I first heard Swallow The Sun, a highly interesting and heavily atmospheric sound. However, it seems that so much crust has built up over that sound by this point that the band really has no other choice but to abandon it, or risk being trapped within it.