Review Summary: The debut album from the Finnish doom sextet, it still remains today as one of the greatest doom moments in history.
What the hell happened here? I thought the Finnish were supposed to be an easygoing group of people who love to drink and have fun, and create uptempo, happy power metal. Instead, I get this tortured album that has NOTHING to do with happiness, and just exhumes despondency throughout.
And I couldn’t be happier.
The year is 2003. The band? A little known doom band called Swallow The Sun. They have just released their debut album, entitled The Morning Never Came, to huge success, garnering many, many rewards. Even Kerrang! chipped in, with the phrase “One of doom metal’s finest moments to date” and rewarded the album with a 5/5 rating. Considering Kerrang!’s track record with bands like this, that’s no small feat.
Currently, Swallow The Sun is working on a new album.
Swallow The Sun - The Morning Never Came
- July 2003 on Firebox Records
Mikko Kotamaki - Vocals
Juha Raivio - Guitar
Markus Jamsen - Guitar
Matti Honkonen - Bass
Aleksi Munter - Keyboards
Pasi Pasanen - Drums
Man, I don’t even know where to begin with this album. Swallow The Sun play doom metal. However, it’s a bit different than normal doom metal. While there is still enough traditionalism in this to keep normal doom metal fans satisfied, there is also enough difference to welcome doom newbies into the genre.
Swallow The Sun doesn’t plod along at 40 beats per minute in all of their songs too. They’re still slow, but not as time impeding as, say, Thergothon. I think what makes this group so special is their ability to create atmosphere. No other band I have listened to has the ability to create an atmosphere like these guys. EVERY song immerses you in a sea of desolation and sadness, with plenty of flat out evil moments to keep you on edge.
Mikko’s vocals aren’t quite as good on this album as they are on the group’s followup effort, Ghosts Of Loss, but he does an extremely good job. He has a great singing voice, and his growls have a bit too much distortion on them, but still give you the feeling of pure armageddon.
Guitarists Juha and Markus alternately chug and pick away, coming up with the perfect harmonies and guitar riffs to bounce off one another. There’s sad, there’s heavy, there’s melancholic, all standards of doom metal. Yet they still manage to do it better than anyone else. They can craft an 8 minute song and keep the listener hooked through every second of it.
Bassist Matti has a few fills here and there, but mainly backs up the guitars and gives that crushing bottom end, a staple of doom metal.
Same for drummer Pasi. He has a few decent rhythmic patterns here and there, but he does the job that a drummer is there for: to keep the beat. I like that about him; he doesn’t get in the way of creating an atmosphere.
And finally, we move on to Aleksi. He is TRULY what makes the band so special. The emotion he can wring out of his synths sets the bar higher than any other keyboardist I’ve heard before. He is never front and center, but he does the best atmospheric keyboard job that you could ask for. He plays off of the guitars, filling in what they can’t do, and generally acting as a backup orchestra from your most depressive thoughts.
Each song on the album tends to follow similar patterns, but it never gets old. While true, the group focuses on bringing out the sorrow in each and every one of their songs, there is an understated beauty surrounding the music. There is much beauty to be found in sadness, and Swallow The Sun are living proof of this.
Really, not much more can be said about this album. Whenever critics try to hype up a band, they always use really bizarre categories, such as, “This is the best hyperdeathgrindcore band with melodic influences to come out of Florida in the past 3 years.” What the crap does that mean?
Swallow The Sun has an easier category: they are one of the best doom metal bands ever, period. Easy to understand, but throws the bar into the stratosphere for the competition.
Honestly, if you want recommended tracks, I’d recommend you get the album. Every track has the same qualities to it, and every track is a masterpiece. However, there are a few I consider my favorites:
- Phased guitar riff goes...goes...goes...BAM. If this is your first introduction to Swallow The Sun, you will be smashed in the face by a wall of doom. Absolutely crushing, this song is unrelenting in its assault. It’s actually a little bit different than the other ones, as it’s probably the fastest song on the album and has a very aggressive feel to it. However, it’s not to be missed.
Out Of This Gloomy Light
- This one is more traditional STS. Great keyboard work and atmosphere are abound in this one, as well as some of the best evil moments on the album.
Hold This Woe
- To be quite honest, I think this has become one of my favorite songs ever. The best on the album, it has everything the band has become a trademark for: heavy guitar riffs, great harmonizing, and some of the best use for keyboards in metal. The atmosphere brought out in this song is second to none. There are also some clean vocals on this track, which go extremely well with the parts they are sung over.
The Morning Never Came
- The end to all ends, the closing track, the longest track on the album. Just another stunning effort.
Kerrang! actually got something right this time. This truly is one of doom metal’s finest moments to date. While still being able to draw newcomers into the doom fold, the band has created an album that will stand the test of time and go down as the archetype for atmospheric metal.
Final Rating - 10/10