The first time I heard the opening track from Swallow the Sun's debut I was just blown away: the gentle piano interlude turned into a mass of crushing riffage and after a calmer moment the unearthly vocals of Mr. Kotamäki were unleashed. Later on, when I proceeded to actually go and buy the album, I was a bit concerned on the superiority of "Through Her Silvery Body" and recalled the rest being little monotonous and way below it's excellence. I was wrong.
This is an act of emotional, guitar-ridden music with a varying tempo, which never actually reaches the deepest pits of funeral doom but neither goes to fast blast beats. The songs are around 5-9 minutes long with none of them reaching the 10 minute mark so often crossed by doom metal bands. They're not a very conventional doom metal band anyway, as the vocals are not the every day ultralow grunting but rather unique, raspy roaring that at least for me is familiar from Funeris Nocturnum's "From the Aspect of Darkly Illuminated", though the music is totally different. The percussion work is quite medium paced and works as a frame for the guitars and bass instead of taking the mainrole. There are some keyboards which are used in a subtle and scarce way, just to create the mood but not to dominate the music. The grand piano parts sound very convincing but when the synthesized violins are introduced the mood is instantly slain. Specially in the last track which is a bit longer and heavier-sounding Christmas carol oozing darkness the violins have a tendency of turning it into a mediocre goth song.
The most powerful tracks are the absolutely magnificent "Through Her Silvery Body" but also "Swallow (Horror pt. 1)" and "Silence of the Womb". Those ones have the most beautifully haunting guitar melodies which echo loss and death, especially "Swallow" because of the almost scary mood it sets in your head. In "Silence of the Womb" we get to hear some clean singing also which suits the track perfectly along with a cleaner guitar sound playing around as a mood-creator. The lyrical content on the album is a bit unclear because the lyrics sheet provides only a glimpse of the sung words in the form of a line or two but on their website lyrics to half of the songs can be found. As far as they go, they deal with death and loss, drug or poison addiction (in a darkly romantic sense, not in a junkie style) and eternal darkness, which all seem to fit this romantically inclined ensemble.
Of course, nothing is flawless and that is true with this record as well. The songs seem a bit monotonous once in a while, in particular the ones I didn't mention above, and the absence of lyrics (how pseudo-artistic that might seem) is more than irritating and the synthesized violins just NEVER work. The overall impression after listening to this CD for dozens of times is that the music is beautiful and melancholic, if not a bit clichéd, and the powerful vocals in accordance with the melodic and crushing guitars keep this record way above the normal gothic doom metal acts.