A Little Bit Deathy, A Little Bit Teary, And A Lot Of Success
Of the many merits of heavy metal, one of the greatest is the potential for unusual genre combinations. Metal is such a rich and diverse music, with so many subgenres, that it almost begs to be toyed with. Often, the results are disastrous. Occasionally, however, a band gets it very, very right. Blending melodic death, doom, folk and a bit of black metal, Finnish sextet Swallow The Sun returns with their fifth full-length, Emerald Forest And The Blackbird, a somber, chaotic and ultimately satisfying journey.
The opening title track begins with ethereal gothic melodies and a dramatic voiceover before segueing into textural doom metal, anchored by Mikko Kotamaki’s unrestrained growls. “This Cut Is The Deepest” utilizes acoustic guitars and clean vocals, evoking an early Porcupine Tree. “Hearts Wide Shut” juxtaposes folky verses with crushing, funerary choruses and distant piano interludes, while “Silent Towers” has a driving heavy rock feel, layering Kotamaki’s clean vocals over his growls to create a feeling of light and darkness. “Labyrinth Of London (Horror Pt. IV)” is the definite standout here, its broad, pummeling verses punctuated by a supremely haunting chorus telling of lost love in the ancient city. Finally, “Night Will Forgive Us” features triumphant guitar leads and spoken word passages before roaring its way to the finish.
Emerald Forest is one of those rare albums that adventurously blends multiple subgenres of metal, and still manages to sound natural in all of them. This is a record for fans of metal, pure and simple. Even if you’re not a fan of death growls, their skillful use more than compensates for any animosity you may have. If your kind of music is heavy, lachrymose, or anything in between, give Swallow The Sun’s newest a try. You’re sure to find something in there for you.