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Swallow The Sun - 20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair (Live in Helsinki) Award winner

Swallow The Sun
20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair (Live in Helsinki)
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 11 October 2021, 2:53 PM

To play Doom Metal or any kind of its genres is to be courageous, because the genre is hard to be assimilated by many people. It’s unbearable for extreme Metal addicted (because it lacks enough aggressiveness in the sense they expect), and to fans of traditional Metal (it’s not full of the melodic energy they love), because the expressiveness of the genre is truly different. To hear and understand the genre is a matter of having an open mind and to spend some time to assimilate it. But the fans of the genre really love that it has a deeper understanding of what the genre express in music (and not the lyrics, as some people insist), and are true maniacs for the genre. It’s the meaning for a band as SWALLOW THE SUN can endure 20 years of activity, and to release a double CD live CD as “20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair (Live in Helsinki)”.

On this live album, the Finnish sextet shows a ‘Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde’ set: the 8 first songs come from “Songs from the North” second disc, on acoustic versions with a string quartet (Teemu Mastovaara and Antti Kolehmainen on cello, Helena Dumell on viola, and Lotta Ahlbeck on violin), and the others are songs voted by the band’s fans. So there are calm, beautiful and deep moments, and some harsh and oppressive ones, based on their personal approach in Doom Metal (sometimes they sound melancholic and melodic, sometimes aggressive and brutally oppressive). But the final result is truly very good for the fans of such genre, and can seduce other fans that have an open mind.

The album was captured during their presentation at Tavastia Club, Helsinki, on February 26th, 2020, just some days before the COVID-19 came and put everything on hold (they were making their 20 years anniversary tour, and this was just their 10th gig). They were lucky to record such a show, and the acoustic set (called as ‘set 1’) was mixed by the band’s keyboardist/backing vocalist Jaani at Black Chandelier Music, while guitarist Juho took care of the mix of the fan-voted tracks (the ‘set 2’) at SoundSpiral Audio Studio (and he did the mastering as well). And everything was done carefully to give the fans the right idea of what is a live show of the band, to the point to everything can be clearly understood. On the other hand, it has that ‘live feeling’ ambience as well. So it’s really very good.

For the set 1 (or disc one, as the readers wish), the acoustic and melodic ambience is really amazing, and the ones who were at the venue were luck to see the live performance, because the string quartet enriched a lot songs as “The Womb of Winter”, “The Heart of a Cold White Land”, “Away”, “Pray for the Winds to Come” (the melancholic and introspective feeling of this one matched perfectly with the strings), “Songs from the North” (the interpretative clean vocals are amazing), “66°50’N, 28°40’E”, “Autumn Fire” and “Before the Summer Dies”. The band plays in so homogeneous form that is hard to say who is doing a better performance. They’re perfect!

On the set 2 (disc 2), as said above, are songs that the fans had chosen. So be prepared for their Melodic Doom Death Metal approach and contrasts on moments as “Lost and Catatonic” (the guitars are great, as the contrasts between vocals as well), “Empires of Loneliness” (a monolithic and bouldering weighty comes from this one), “Falling World” (this one has some elements from Gothic Doom Metal, with very good keyboards’ parts), “Cathedral Walls” (the deeper and landscaping ambience is really amazing, preceding a brutal part), “Plague of Butterflies (Part 2)”, “Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror, Part 2)”, “Stone Wings” (another song with a more Gothic Doom insight), “The Giant” (another set of melancholic and somber contrasts, thanks to the great playing of bass guitar and drums), “Swallow (Horror, Part 1)” and “Here on the Black Earth” are expressing the knowledge of their fans about their work on their choices, or the band has an amazing work (which means that they are a pillar for the genre today). But remembering: you’ll experience a live show, so the audience screams and applause can be heard in many moments.

After hearing to “20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair (Live in Helsinki)”, all that’s left to say is that SWALLOW THE SUN deserves to live more 200 years, because their musical work is courageous and defies the musical industry in many points. And they’re on the same level of creativeness as names as PARADISE LOST and MY DYING BRIDE. And as things improve in the Brazilian economy, I’ll try to buy a physical copy, because there’s a DVD as well.

It’s a fantastic live album, indeed…

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Disc One:

1. The Womb of Winter
2. The Heart of a Cold White Land
3. Away
4. Pray for the Winds to Come
5. Songs from the North
6. 66°50’N, 28°40’E
7. Autumn Fire
8. Before the Summer Dies

Disc 2:

1. Lost and Catatonic
2. Empires of Loneliness
3. Falling World
4. Cathedral Walls
5. Plague of Butterflies (Part 2)
6. Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror, Part 2)
7. Stone Wings
8. The Giant
9. Swallow (Horror, Part 1)
10. Here on the Black Earth
Lineup:
Mikko Kotamäki - Vocals
Juha Raivio - Guitars
Juho Räihä - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Jaani Peuhu - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Matti Honkonen - Bass
Juuso Raatikainen - Drums
Record Label: Century Media Records
     


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