Artist: Swallow the Sun
Label: Spinefarm Records
This could only come out of Finland really, a land well known for literally swallowing its sun and a perfect name for a band who have unleashed an album of atmospheric, chilly doom. This is another of those complex albums I so love to get to review, ones that take a long time to immerse yourself in due to the complexity of their nature and ones that reward richly when everything clicks into place (as it did on about the 6th to 7th listen of Hope).
Again I am literally kicking myself for not having discovered this band before, as it is their 3rd album and I seriously want to check out their back catalogue on the strength of this powerfully emotive slab of lament tinged bleakness. Hope is the sort of track name one would associate with our very own Anathema and certainly there are tinges of them on the opening title track along with a heavy crunchy rhythm section bringing to mind the clinical sweep of Novembers Doom. The acoustic mutterings of the guitars are lightly placed along with the clean vocals sounding to me very much in line with Judgement era Anathema and having an underlying and at times uplifting vibe of (well) hope!
I love the gruff death vocals employed by singer Mikko Kotamaki and note that this is the same throat that had really impressed me on the black metal riot of Trollheim?s Grott album Bloodsoaked And Ill-Fated. These Hours Of Despair has what I can only describe as a fantasy film soundtrack lurking within it, a much heavier track in itself, rampaging into battle but with spoken word vocals yearning away at the slower interludes.
The clean vocals on The Justice Of Suffering had me immediately thinking how similar the song sounded to Katatonia and it was really no surprise to read that Jonas Renkse is guest vocalist here and this is a perfect track in almost every way, sending shivers down my spine when they beseechingly seep in. Sombre and mournful in its caress, Too Cold For Tears has a slow yet mighty gravity running through its veins. The longest song on the album gradually unfolds and draws you into its layers like a flower slowly blossoming and ejecting its fragrance.
The Empty Skies takes in My Dying Bride (but certainly not their last gruntless offering) and is packed full of emotion as it pillages around a choppy rhythm practically bleeding into No Light, No Hope chock full of weeping guitars. There appears to be an extra track (or room) on my promo which is not listed but it certainly had me scratching my head until I realised that it melodically sounds rather strangely similar to Mike Oldfield?s Moonlight Shadow! All in all Hope is a nice enjoyably miserable listen, perfect for these dark winter months.