Swallow the Sun
Moonflowers


4.4
superb

Review

by Robert Garland STAFF
November 19th, 2021 | 90 replies


Release Date: 11/19/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Swallow The Sun's eleventh hour record has never sounded so good.

When talking of the Finnish doom metal scene you’d be hard pressed to find a conversation that doesn’t mention Swallow The Sun. For the better part of two decades these Finnish masterminds have been crafting some of the genre’s more prevalent and heartfelt compositions by melding equal parts emotion with devastatingly well-performed instrumentals. As such (and given the practice a twenty year career would make), Swallow The Sun’s core values have been consistently on the better side of critical reception and their eight record, Moonflowers deserves equal, if not greater praise. That’s not to dismiss the band’s more preferred back catalog. The likes of The Morning Never Came, Hope and even newer cuts When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light (a whole two years ago) continue to hold up even as new material is released. Whether you’re a fan of the band’s more storied releases or just along for whatever comes next Moonflowers is the album doom metal needed before the year is out.

“Moonflowers Bloom in Misery” rings in the new record with melancholy, notes dancing to minor chord progressions that just seep anguish and loss. As such the atmosphere takes a larger focal point here and in everything that follows. Swallow The Sun are masters of atmosphere. From there, Mikko Kotamäki’s vocals take over, a narration of gentle croons and pointed gothic imagery—but his place isn’t in the limelight. Simply put, Mikko Kotamäki is the conductor, directing the very tide of emotion that embraces before it roars. Emotion is laced into every nook and note while the listener breathes in both the track’s simpler, gentle melancholia and devastating walls of bombasting riffs and deep growls. “Enemy” continues in the same vein. After all, Swallow The Sun’s musical formula has only ever required tweaks to suit their members’ current moods and states of mind. Melodic guitar lines weave into riff and vocal passage, clear even under a cacophony of riffs and mid to low growls. In this manner they compliment the album’s more efficient leads while the lyrical hooks do their part.

As impressive as the record’s first half is, it’s the closing bisection that deserves the higher praise. “All Hallows' Grieve” features Oceans Of Slumber vocalist Cammie Gilbert who’s impressive cleans harmonise well into the core of the Swallow The Sun framework. As far as doom metal duets go, this could be the best you’ll hear this decade. “The Void” picks up where much of the album’s first half left off; smoldering riffs latch onto sombering, melancholic melodies while the omnipresent Mikko lays both hook and sentimental verse onto a canvas already thick with hues of black, grey and red, balancing a constant dichotomy of heavier sections to contrast with ethereal, simpler cleaner sections. It’s a sentiment that I wouldn’t put out of place while referring to Katatonia’s more modern pieces. It’s this weighted contrast which has served Swallow The Sun and in turn, Moonflowers so well. In this manner I’d be remiss to skip “Keep Your Heart Safe from Me” and it’s minimalistic beginnings that turn to the group’s more potent death metal tropes halfway through. Like two sides of the same coin the track both placates a kinder atmosphere and moods meant to rip at flesh and bone. It’s a trend that continues in a more balanced manner during “The Fight of Your Life” as the vocals lean into snarls as well as the expected melodic croon and near-Opeth-ian growls—restraint balancing with abandon and chaos with fleeting moments of tranquility.

Even as the record closes curtain with “This House Has No Home”, Swallow The Sun’s penchant for gravitas doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s here that Moonflowers’ pain truly reverberates through everything that’s come before it. Whether it’s the dirge-like riffs and ringing notes, the march of splashed cymbals or the pure, unadulterated anguish that pours through clean and screamed vocals alike the album comes to a satisfying, yet completely pained end. It circles back to the atmosphere mentioned [near] the top of this review. Swallow The Sun knows their craft, they play it well and we as listeners feel it.



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user ratings (73)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


15681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Have some youtube fun here: https://youtu.be/_y8TPj7ULXM

Digging: Obscura - A Valediction

OverSlyZed91
November 19th 2021


126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Super solid stuff.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


15681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Yeah doom (at least in this vein) hasn't had a super strong showing this year and yet this is well worth it.

Purpl3Spartan
November 19th 2021


1886 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Awesome review you delicate little potato dumpling

Digging: Satyr - Locus

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


15681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Your 3/5 confounds the hell out of me but I shall take your praise dear one.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


16982 Comments


Looks like these flowers are something to behold. Gotta check

Digging: Obscura - A Valediction

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


15681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Let me know you go my man.

Tundra
November 19th 2021


6688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"3/5 confounds the hell out of me" [2]

Elynna
November 19th 2021


1048 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a fantastic write-up, and my expectations are incredibly high right now.

Digging: Oado - Life Era

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


15681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

--and my expectations are incredibly high right now.--



Now I'm a bit nervous haha.

DungeonBoy
November 19th 2021


8536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, and I'm really looking forward to checking this out. "never sounded so good" in relation to albums like The Morning Never Came and Hope leaves me with some serious skepticism my good chef. Very much looking forward to this, despite not really enjoying the last 4 or so albums but I'll give it a chance as always.

Digging: Stormkeep - Tales of Othertime

Essence
November 19th 2021


6545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

that black metal out of nowhere in the last song was a very welcome surprise

DungeonBoy
November 19th 2021


8536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice to hear, they did that on New Moon and it's one of the best parts on the album

arf
November 19th 2021


38 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that's a good suggestion, what I will be listening to today

Digging: Cynic - Ascension Codes

Sowing
Moderator
November 19th 2021


39682 Comments


great review
I listened to the youtube track in your first comment and it was good enough; I will probably end up checking this out.

Digging: Converge - Bloodmoon: I

Purpl3Spartan
November 19th 2021


1886 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

“Your 3/5 confounds the hell out of me but I shall take your praise dear one.”



Album is good but not really my thing.

Shiranui
November 19th 2021


828 Comments


Should i give this a try if the singles didn't impress me much?

Dmax28
November 19th 2021


1008 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nope

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2021


15681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Wrong answer

Dmax28
November 19th 2021


1008 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fair enough lol



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