Swallow the Sun – Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
text: Helena Torstensson
Swallow the Sun is a death, doom metal band from Finland that was formed in 2000 by Juha Raivio. Soon he was joined by Pasi Pasanen. In 2001 Markus Jämsen, Mikko Kotamäki, Aleksi Munter and Matti Honkonen joined the band. In 2002 they started arranging songs for their demo. The first demo ‘Out of this Gloomy Light’ was recorded in January 2003, and their first record deal with Firebox Records.
Their debut album ‘The Morning Never Came’ was out in the Autumn of 2003. After that world wide success came pretty fast, touring around the globe. A change in the line-up came in 2009 when Kai Hahto joined the band to fill the void by former drummer Pasi Pasanen. ‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’ is the band’s fifth album.
The first song and title track: “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird” opens slowly, but brings pretty soon rougher elements. That creates a special atmosphere. It’s interesting to hear the way music and vocals are keeping perfect pace together. In a way it creates something that I find poetic. This song is almost ten minutes long. It’s a pleasure to sit back, with closed eyes, and drift away by the music.
One of the songs that made a lingering impression on me is “This Cut is the Deepest.” A part of it’s charm is; it stays simple yet so very moving. It begins with easy and good sounding guitars. That together with Mikko Kotamäki’s vocals really manages to bring such a melancholic and special feeling. Strong lyrics and melody create something more. It is hard to translate all my feelings in words regarding this one.
The first single from the album is “Cathedral Walls.” It features Anette Olzon from Nightwish. I would call it ‘a ballad with a bite’. Frontman Mikko is telling the story with soft sounding vocals, carried by a slow melody that caress you ears. He is soon followed by Anette as she temporary takes hold of the microphone. The mix of vocals fits beautifully. In the middle of the song Mikko’s voice changes, grows roughly and the music changes too: a dark and intense atmosphere. It is interesting to hear Anette’s light voice again followed by a very balanced instrumental ending.
‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’ is my first encounter with Swallow the Sun. These songs contains impressive music and strong lyrics. It is amazing the way Mikko Kotamäki manages to change his vocals during the songs. Moving quite easily from a clear sound to a rougher side, and almost growling ones. The haunting guitar melodies mixed with, what I would call, folkloric elements builds up the dark and mystic atmosphere. Swallow the Sun is a master in creating charming songs. It rises expectations after every minute: an outstanding album for sure!
1. Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
2. This Cut is the Deepest
3. Hate, Lead the Way
4. Cathedral Walls (feat. Anette Olzon)
5. Hearts Wide Shut
6. Silent Towers
7. Labyrinth of London (Horror PT. IV)
8. Of Death and Corruption
9. April 14th
10. Night will Forgive Us
Mikko Kotamäki – vocals
Juha Raivio – guitars
Markus Jämsen – guitars
Aleksi Munter – keyboards
Matti Honkonen – bass
Kai Hahto – drums