Swallow the Sun – New Moon (Spinefarm Records)

Sunday, 17th March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

The Finns are gradually becoming less and less of a well-kept secret, which should only heighten the impact of New Moon, an album that eclipses the underwhelming Hope from two years ago. Swallow the Sun’s painstakingly crafted melodic death/doom sound is now showing signs of maturity, as there are a handful of choice, well-advised songwriting moves here that nudge the band into a realm all their own.

Starting with the surprisingly caustic “These Woods Breathe Evil,” New Moonstays in tune with the solemn and striking sound first heard on the band’s monumental The Morning Never Came album. Singer Mikko Kotamäki unleashes a scratchy growl we’ve yet to hear from the man, adding a new degree of intensity. This is quelled by his versatile clean vocal approach on “Falling World.”

True gloom emerges on “And Heavens Cried Blood,” the album’s standout track. A graceful, sobbing, mournful number, “And Heavens Cried Blood” is caressed by soft keyboard work from Aleksi Munter and a glutton of Juha Raivio’s most depressing riffs to date. Additional gems include “Lights on the Lake” (featuring the female vocals of Sweden-based singer Aleah) and the grandiose, yet sullen vibe of “Servant of Sorrow.”

As noted above, New Moon is a definite improvement over Hope, fitting in nicely between the monumental Morning Never Came and its follow-up, Ghosts of Loss. Swallow the Sun are now the torchbearers of Finnish doom metal, a tag the band should embrace, and ultimately, hold up their end of the bargain to.

www.myspace.com/swallowthesundoom

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)