Album Review – Swallow The Sun / Moonflowers (2021)

Jyväskylä, Finland’s own Doom Metal unity returns with another stunning album, offering us all eight beautiful, captivating songs blooming in misery.

Formed in 2000 in Jyväskylä, Keski-Suomi, Finland by guitarist Juha Raivio, the five-piece Finnish Melodic Doom/Death Metal outfit Swallow The Sun has just unleashed upon humanity their new opus entitled Moonflowers, the eight in their undisputed career. Currently comprised of Mikko Kotamaki on vocals, Juha Raivio on the guitars and keyboards, Juho Raiha also on the guitars, Matti Honkonen on bass, and Juuso Raatkainen on drums, Swallow The Sun continue to pave the gloomy path of their previous album When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light (inspired by the loss of Juha’s life partner Aleah Stanbridge in 2016), offering fans of the most melodic side of doom eight beautiful, captivating songs in the span of over 52 minutes, being therefore the perfect soundtrack for the darkest days in your life.

The striking opening song Moonflowers Bloom in Misery is absolutely doomed from the very first second, with Mikko already delivering his melancholic, grim vocal lines accompanied by the sluggish beats by Juuso, exploding into a massive feast of Melodic Death and Doom Metal. Then in Enemy we’re treated to beautiful lyrics declaimed by Mikko (“I crawl back to my shadow / From the edge of the light / Deep down into the sea of my own rain sirens / In the eye of the… / Enemy, inside of me / Torn from a trail of light / Grail of serpents lies”) while Juho and Juha’s guitars make an interesting paradox with Juha’s own keys; followed by Woven into Sorrow, a lecture in darkness and sorrow by the band presenting gorgeous, serene guitar lines intertwined with sheer heaviness and whimsical background elements, also featuring guest backing vocals by Antti Hyyrynen from Stam1na. Not only that, t’s impressive how they manage to make their music epic and symphonic without losing their blackened core essence, which is also the case in Keep Your Heart Safe from Me, almost eight minutes of top-of-the-line doom showcasing infernal, headbanging sounds led by Juuso’s drums supported by the low-tuned bass by Matti while also presenting a more cryptic, delicate side of the band.

All Hallows’ Grieve features guest vocals by the stunning Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber), and she nails it with her soulful vocals (“Before I go, I’ll let you know / My heart was honest, for you / My heart was cruel / You believed / I’m a soul of a ghost to fight for / I believe, I believe, I lost my will to fight for”), resulting in a sensational doom aria, whereas drinking from the fountain of 80’s Gothic and Doom Metal it’s time for the enfolding and somber The Void, where Matti and Juuso once again generate a reverberating ambience with their respective weapons. The Fight of Your Life is another gentle and melancholic composition by Swallow The Sun which despite presenting all elements we love in their music is not as compelling as the rest of the album; and closing the album it’s time for an infernal composition titled This House Has No Home, where the keys by Juha walk hand in hand with both the clean vocals and the demonic roars by Mikko, putting a climatic and dark ending to the album.

In a nutshell, the very pleasant and obscure Moonflowers, which is available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, cements Swallow The Sun’s name as one of the best Doom Metal acts of the past 20 years while at the same time provides admirers of doom with something fresh, leaving us all eager for more of their stunning creations. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and so on, and obviously to grab your copy of Moonflowers by clicking HERE. Keep in mind that if you go for the mediabook or boxset edition of the album, it comes with a very beautiful bonus disc with classical versions of all songs of the album recorded at the Sipoo Church in Finland by Trio N O X, comprised of Aino Rautakorpi on violin, Helena Dumell on viola and Annika Furstenborg on cello, as for example their gorgeous rendition of the song All Hallows’ Grieve. And while the moonflowers keep blooming in misery, Swallow The Sun will continue to darken the skies with their classy Doom Metal for at least another 20 years.

Best moments of the album: Moonflowers Bloom in Misery, Woven into Sorrow and All Hallows’ Grieve.

Worst moments of the album: The Fight of Your Life.

Released in 2021 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery 6:19
2. Enemy 5:39
3. Woven into Sorrow 7:46
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me 7:47
5. All Hallows’ Grieve 5:37
6. The Void 5:39
7. The Fight of Your Life 7:13
8. This House Has No Home 6:40

Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc (Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun)
1. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery (classical version) 4:52
2. Enemy (classical version) 3:06
3. Woven into Sorrow (classical version) 4:39
4. Keep Your Heart Safe from Me (classical version) 3:13
5. All Hallows’ Grieve (classical version) 4:58
6. The Void (classical version) 4:01
7. The Fight of Your Life (classical version) 4:16
8. This House Has No Home (classical version) 3:03

Band members
Mikko Kotamaki – vocals
Juha Raivio – guitars, keyboards
Juho Raiha – guitars
Matti Honkonen – bass
Juuso Raatkainen – drums

Guest musicians
Cammie Gilbert – vocals on “All Hallows’ Grieve”
Antti Hyyrynen – backing vocals on “Woven into Sorrow”
Jaani Peuhu – backing vocals
Aino Rautakorpi – violin on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Helena Dumell – viola on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”
Annika Furstenborg – cello on all classical versions from the Limited Edition Mediabook/Boxset bonus disc “Trio N O X plays Moonflowers by Swallow the Sun”

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