Swansong – Awakening (Noble Demon)

Friday, 1st December 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Finnish melodic death metal is a staple in many aural diets – especially for numerous scribes at this site. Swansong comes onto our radar as a formation since 2020, issuing their Winter Maiden EP debut in early 2022 when Noble Demon signed the group. Combining a mix of melodic death with folk, heavy and old school elements, the band’s follow-up album Awakening could stir many souls through its infectious rhythms, set to stun guitar melodies, as well as the brutal combination of dark growls plus venomous screams as the eleven songs take shape.

The main frame of crushing musical components that are equally aggressive as they are gallop or hook-driven allows the songs to have that retention effect from immediate initial exposure only to grow on you through multiple playbacks. Hard charging rhythms branch out into speedier or circular harmony-fueled runs, the rhythm section capable of laying into a solid foundation of metal support while being faster (or flashier) when called for. The folk inflections come in specific tracks while still being distortion/electric in tone – “Shot in the Heart” a prime example as the atmosphere changes quickly into machine gun-like salvos that match the intense vocals of Jemiina Helloise, before careening into this mid-tempo instrumental segment worthy of Children of Bodom supreme quality. At other points traditional old school chord progressions enter the fold – especially bringing listeners to life for “Maiden of Death”, while the speedy stair step action during “Blood Widow” takes on a more modern “Over the Wall”/ Testament vibe before turning on a dime to mutate into a straightforward, groovy melodic death outing. Every aspect of tone, production quality, style, songwriting mechanics seem to be taken into consideration – confident in the path they’ve chosen to keep the songs very focused without a lot of extraneous aspects to filter out.

While there have been low points in the history of the melodic death metal movement, it seems over the past couple of years there’s a rising tide of quality releases not only from the mainstays, but newcomers like Swansong. The killer guitar work and savage vocal presence makes Awakening a thrilling launching pad for the listeners, hopefully ensuring longevity as well as creative prosperity for their career.

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