Review Summary: An uneven, yet worthwhile listen for the sporadic excellence contained.
The atmosphere of this album is inescapable. From the first moment to the last, "New Moon" succeeds in creating a sound of darkness and depression. A fitting description of the feeling of this record can be found in the title of their debut album "The Morning Never Came"; as you feel as if darkness will forever surround New Moon, and the sun will never touch it.
This is first and foremost a doom metal record. “Swallow the Sun”, for better or worse, have again refused to change their musical style since their previous effort (and all records preceding that). The only progression that can be found on "New Moon" comes in the form of constant alternation between soft and heavy, yet it is still all doom. This is not to say that all the tracks on this album are monotonous and overly similar, it is just that some, such as “Sleepless Swans”, do not posses enough substance to justify their long length. Others, however, showcase excellent examples of both atmosphere and instrument working in tandem to excellent effect. One of the best examples of this is “Lights on the Lake”, possibly the strongest song on "New Moon". This track embodies what Swallow the Sun attempt to represent through their music; beauty through depression.
Whilst the atmosphere, as previously mentioned, is one of the most noticeable and well executed aspects of this record; the music that accompanies it does not always match it in terms of quality. Swallow the Sun haven’t done much wrong on "New Moon", however in many of the songs they fail to do enough to lift the songs above a solid, yet unremarkable level . There are exceptions to this statement (...And the Heavens Cried Blood, Lights on the Lake), yet the majority fail to reach significant heights.
There aren’t many negatives about the instrumentation on "New Moon" as they are all executed at a rather high level. Whilst you may think “If the instrumentation is high, and the atmosphere is also excellent, then what is the major drawback of this record?”.
Even though the songs march forward with a high level of guitar, bass, drum and vocal work (for a doom metal record), some of the songs tend to go stale over five to seven minutes of more or less the same thing. This leads to "New Moon" becoming somewhat of a chore to listen to after a few songs. Had some of the weaker songs been shortened, and perhaps some extra tracks been thrown in, "New Moon" may have been a far better album.
Overall, your enjoyment of this album will mostly come down to the strongest 3 or 4 tracks. The rest, while still decent, feel like cheap versions of the stronger tracks (“filler”, if you will).
Lights on the Lake
..And the Heavens Cried Blood
These Woods Breathe Evil
The title track is quite solid as well