tekst en foto’s: Monica Duffels
De line-up wordt gevormd door Pain, Moonspell, Swallow The Sun, Lake Of Tears en Scar Of The Sun. In de maand november tourt het gezelschap door heel Europa en deze grootschalige tour eindigt in 013 te Tilburg.
De zanger heeft geen onderscheidende stem, en klinkt schreeuwerig wat op den duur wat begint te irriteren. Door dit alles steekt de gedachte “dertien in een dozijn” geregeld de kop op.
Ook het publiek reageert nogal gematigd op dit optreden. Het lijkt erop alsof de band een beetje moet opwarmen, want pas na de eerste helft van hun set lijkt de vaart er eindelijk een beetje in te komen.
Zanger Mikko Kotamäki zingt loepzuiver en daarnaast klinken zijn grunts en screams erg overtuigend. Ik ken maar weinig zangers die beide manieren van stemgebruik zo goed beheersen.
Na enkele minuten verdwijnen ze weer backstage, de lachers op de hand krijgend. Zo te zien hebben ze in ieder geval veel plezier met elkaar gehad op de tour. Verplichte nummers zijn verder de publieksfavorieten ‘Alma Mater’ en de afsluiter ‘Full Moon Madness’.
Een hereniging van de muzikanten bij de laatste band van de avond. De set wordt toepasselijk afgesloten met het nummer ‘Shut Your Mouth‘, waarna de monden letterlijk gesnoerd zijn en iedereen met een voldaan gevoel huiswaarts keert.
tekst en foto’s: Maarten ter Braak
Deze avond zullen twee bands het podium van Tivoli betreden wiens muziek niets te maken heeft met vrolijke bloemetjes. Paradise Lost komt in Utrecht haar tour aftrappen ter ere van het nieuwe album ‘Tragic Idol’ en in het voorprogramma staat de Finse band Swallow The Sun.
Gelukkig kan ik schuilen voor de regen, want het is nog erg rustig in de gang naar de entree van de Oudegracht toe en ook als de deuren eenmaal open zijn blijft het erg rustig: een handjevol mensen op de eerste rij en verder wat mensen achterin rondom de bar.
Totdat Swallow The Sun het podium betreedt. De achterste helft komt wel een stuk dichterbij staan waardoor de band niet voor slechts een paar mensen staat te spelen.
Het podium staat ondertussen ook behoorlijk vol, misschien wel iets te vol want veel bewegingsruimte hebben de bandleden niet. Met als gevolg dat het een wat statische show is om naar te kijken.
Toch deert dat niet omdat de band technisch goed speelt. Al vind ik het jammer dat een deel van de vocalen van band komen. Zanger Mikko Kotamäki bezit juist over een krachtige en donkere stem. Gitarist en oprichter Juha Raivio is een blikvanger. Een interview met hem over de nieuwe plaat volgde eerder.
Ongeveer de helft van de set bestaat uit materiaal van hun laatste plaat ‘Emerald Forest And The Blackbird’ wat wordt afgewisseld met ouder werk. Een solide set die staat als een huis en goed wordt ontvangen.
Ik vermoed dat dit ligt aan mensen die nog eerst van hun werk moesten komen, want de gemiddelde leeftijd ligt ruim boven de dertig. Nadat er op het podium de nodige apparatuur is weggehaald, is het de beurt aan Paradise Lost.
Meteen vanaf het begin is duidelijk dat dit een band is die weet wat ze doen. De muziek wordt zonder moeite strak gespeeld en de set is afwisselend met nummers uit de verschillende periodes van de band.
Dat wordt door het publiek gewaardeerd. Al is er weinig interactie met het publiek, waardoor het geheel toch behoorlijk routinematig aanvoelt. Het grootste minpunt aan de avond is het hoge volume.
Tussen de bands door is het lastig een gesprek te voeren en bij de optredens zelf wordt de muziek vaak meer een brei van geluid. Ook bij thuiskomst bleek ik een suis in mijn gehoor te hebben ondanks het constant dragen van oordoppen.
Kortom, ik kijk met gemengde gevoelens terug op deze avond. Swallow the Sun bleek live erg overtuigend en Paradise Lost zette een solide, wat routine matige set neer. Maar door het hoge volume heb ik niet ten volle kunnen genieten van de avond en dat is zonde.
text: Helena Torstensson
Finnish death, doom metal band Swallow The Sun is since their beginning in 2000 very successful, formed by guitarist and songwriter Juha Raivio. After their debut album ‘The Morning Never Came’ (2003) they gained worldwide success.
With their new, sixth album ‘ Emerald Forest And The Blackbird‘ more progressive elements are added to the melodic, and very own sound, of Swallow The Sun.
During a short break between the Finnish tour and the European part with Paradise Lost, mastermind Juha Raivio answers some questions by email. What follows is a very open, dynamic and personal story from this musician and songwriter.
How would you like to introduce Swallow the Sun as a band and your music to those who have not heard of you yet?
Juha Raivio: “I think the best way to have an idea of Swallow the Sun’s music, are these three words: gloom, beauty and despair. We also have a song called ‘Gloom, Beauty and Despair’ and I always felt like that this title says it all. I guess we are a death, doom band with a very Finnish sound.”
When it comes to influences, are there any bands or persons that have inspired your creative work as well as your style?
Juha Raivio: ” Yes there are many. The bands that has influence me the most are Rush, Marillion, Type O Negative, My Dying Bride, Candlemass, Iron Maiden and Duran Duran. Without Type O Negative our sound would be quite different. That is why I wanted to write a tribute to Peter Steele on our new album, ‘April 14th’ is the song title. “
Juha Raivio: ” I am very closed person and I don’t talk much about my feelings. So music is a huge channel to let the inner demons lose, and it makes life much easier to live. Music has saved me many times!
It’s the best compliment when we got mail, or talk to the people, whos life we also have saved. I guess if I was not doing music I would end to be a carpenter, its all about creating something with your hands and put your soul into it.”
Can you explain more about your new album “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird”? Like for example, would you like to tell me about your main source of inspiration and maybe describe the process of making the album?
Juha Raivio: The main influence for the new album is an old Finnish lullaby called ‘Sininen Uni’. I have always loved this song and it was sang to me many, many times when I was a child. There is something really mystical in this song: there is a golden forest and a blue bird, of a dream what brings children to a sleep.
I felt that this forest is a journey between life and death. The bird symbolizes death, so the idea for a new album came from there. And the whole album is, kind of, a story through this night and the things you might think in this limbo between dusk and the dawn. This album was really easy to write and the music just flowed out of me, so it only took couple of months to write.”
After writing my review for “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird” I have continued listening to it, and like most albums it grows on you the more you listen to it. A song that really moves me is “Hearts Wide Shut”. Would you like to tell me about this song, like for example inspiration and maybe your own feelings regarding it?
Juha Raivio: “Thank you, it’s a really an important song for me also. In this album there are lots of themes of how to forgive yourself for the things you have done to other people, and this song is one about that. I really don’t want to explane much about my lyrics, because it might take away lot of things what it means to other people.
Everyones own truth about the music and lyrics are right ones, we all live the songs through our own experiences and emotions. That’s the beauty of music and that is why songs shouldn’t be explained too much.”
Which song or songs are your own personal favorites at the moment and why?
Juha Raivio: “I love the ‘Emereald Forest And The blackbird’ song, also ‘Hearts Wide Shut’ and ‘Night Will Forgive Us’ are my favourites at the moment. I think those three songs gives a good example of the new album also.”
You are currently out touring in your homeland Finland. How does it feel to travel around with your new album, when many people hear the new songs for the first time live?
Juha Raivio: “Our Finnish tour was fantastic and the new songs are working so good at the gigs. It’s starting to be really hard to make setlists for the gigs. Because we have six releases to choose songs from. That’s why we have been playing almost two hours shows recently.”
What are your expectations and hopes for this tour?
Juha Raivio: ” Well, right now we have done the tour and it was a fantastic one. We hadn’t played together in a year and we had quick rehersals just before going on tour, so it was a bit nerve breaking.
But all the songs worked out so well. People seem to love the new songs. Even when they aren’t that familiar yet, as the old songs are to them. I can’t wait to tour other countries also and bring these songs with us.”
I’ve read somewhere that you started playing instruments when you were twelve years old, is this correct? What was the reason you started playing back then and when did your love for music start?
Juha Raivio: “Yes I was about that age, when I picked up my friends guitar and fell in love with guitar right away. I am from very musical family and it was just matter of time to find an instrument. I really wanted to play and compose music with it.
I always have been ‘doing’ songs on my mind, when I was a kid already. Also I always love music that brings pictures and short movies on my mind. That is what happens when I write music also, if it doesent bring me pictures and these kind of short movies on my mind, then I stop writing.”
Was it obvious that you would be working with music?
Juha Raivio: “Yes. I always knew its gonna be a hard job. Because the way, and the style of music, I have been making during my life. But I always have known that I need to do it to keep my self sane. I guess I have no choice than write music and if someone else likes it too, then I can’t be more happier. But first of all I write for myself, so I guess its not work, its way to stay alive.”
Juha Raivio: “I do both, but usually I dig deep into the music and then the lyrics come after that. For me the music is already like a lyric, because of the images it brings to my head. Lyrics just make it even stronger to feel. First I dig deep into the music, then the lyrics widens the horizon and then its all together. That’s why music – that takes time to get into – is most rewarding at the end, at least for me.”
How has your own taste in music changed through the years? What did you listen to when you were younger and what do you listen to today?
Juha Raivio: “I am actually quite stuck with my old favourites and its been really hard to find new music or bands that I fell in love with lately. The bands that have influenced me, are the ones I am still listening. Over and over again, and I still discover new things on the albums that inspire me.”
If you were hit by a car and lie dying on the ground – but you got to sing one song that people would remember you for, a song that would sum up you, which song would that be?
Juha Raivio: ” It’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ from Monthy Python, haha! That would be a total black humour way to go!”
In May the band will tour in Europe together with Paradise Lost.
More information about Swallow The Sun on: http://www.swallowthesun.net/site/
MW would like to thank: Juha Raivio & Swallow The Sun , Spinefarm Records
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
copyright text: Silviapd
copyright photo’s: Monica Duffels
Every year Summer Breeze Open Air in Dinkelsbuhl manage to find an outstanding line-up of bands. What means 180 bands in one weekend, unexpected names, rising stars, and unique projects. The best opportunity to find a combination of bands you never see on tour.
Arriving on the Wednesday means that only the Party stage is open, a white tent next to the Main- and Pain stage on the other side. Its a dark mass for now, but in the morning it turns into a musical heaven.
Summer Breeze is located on a hill, and when you look down, you can clearly see how huge the festival ground really is. The camping side covers the whole grade and logistically it is very wise to situate both stages next to each other. So it is easy to switch between the bands. And there is the VIP tent, our second home, in between. That makes surviving a four day festival so much easier.
The organisation wants to promote upcoming artists, and one of them is the opener of the festival on the Mainstage Barren Earth. Finnish masters assemble of respected musicians. There is vocalist Mikko, wellknown from Swallow The Sun, guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö from Kreator, and keyboardist Kasper ex-Amorphis. With Curse Of The Red River they delivered a very strong debut album, what’s very promising for the future. No wonder that it is crowded in the early afternoon with a burning sun on your shoulders.
Full force on opener ‘Curse Of The Red River’ where Mikko impress with his deep aggressive grunts, covering his eyes under his cap. Opeth meets his darker sister today. The sound is not always well balanced, especially during the clean backing vocals from Sami Yli-Sirniö.
Impressive team work from guitarists Janne and Sami on this guitar dominated song, where the ‘screaming’ high tones stays in your head. Both men are meters separated from each other, but there is a strong interaction: they have such an own style, bounding it into a technical adrenaline rising song. Drummer Marko has the flue, but his sound is fast, groovy and very dynamic. Unbelievable how fast he goes, even during his background vocals, impressive.
It is an once-in-a-lifetime moment for many metal fans to hear the songs live in the original formation. Naturally it is important to have a strong united band on stage and Barren Earth retains the attention, making you curious how the set will develop. Impressive when you consider that they rarely play together, caused by the long tours their bands make in the world.
It is a short, powerful set where Barren Earth shows to be a strong adversary to all Finnish bands that day, and even more. ‘Our Twilight’ is the titletrack from the EP. Live on stage it gets an extra dimension, because it is clear that all the members are doing this mostly for the fun and alloy their talent for that reason. Kasper on piano has such a crystal clear sound, and it makes you shiver even on such a hot day. Bassplayer Olli is very vivid on stage, jumping around all the time.
‘ Forlorn Waves’ asks a lot from all the members with technical solo’s, even faster grunts and it must have been energetic process during the writing process. It doesn’t reflect much on the members, they are frozen behind their microphone. Perhaps the stage is too big, although frontman Mikko changes positions with Janne and Olli.
Then ‘ Flicker ‘ is one of the most progressive songs, switching from mid-tempo doomy atmosphere to a heavy groovy part with fast grunts and technical bas, guitar lines. The performance crows during the song, it seems the feedback from the crowd woke them up.
And all the power is there during ‘The Leer’ a more old-school song, dominated by Marko on drums and a strong rhythm section. On top of that a high guitar mixed with the clean vocals from Sami, in contrast of the dark grunts from Mikko.
There is a long instrumental part, where all the solo interactions come together, especially on stage you feel the vibe better and Mikko shows here very well that he is an excellent vocalist. The only remark is the fact that he isn’t such a great performer, because he shows a lack of interest when he smokes a cigarette and turns his back to the crowd.
During the last song ‘ Floodred’ Olli gets the attention, suddenly he surprises the crowd with his clean voice. A catchy ending of a short set, Barren Earth convinces strongly with a dynamic, melodic and technical impressive sound. They definitely have a stronger fan base since that day. T he kick-off from Summer Breeze 2010 is a fact and it was a highlight to see these Finnish musicians on one stage today.
Mikko Kotamäki– Vocals (Swallow The Sun)
Olli-Pekka Laine – Bass (Ex-Amorphis, Mannhai)
Kasper Mårtenson –Keyboards (Ex-Amorphis, Ben Granfelt Band)
Janne Perttilä– Guitar (Rytmihäiriö)
Marko Tarvonen – Drums (Moonsorrow)
Sami Yli- Sirniö – Guitar, backing vocals (Kreator, Waltari)
Napalm Death dominated the metal scene in the eighties with their typical grintcore sound. Vocalist Barny is still standing strong, angry at the world and his raw voice is so unique that you recognize them everywhere. Their power blows away the enthusiastic crowd.
From begin till the end they impress with their wall of music, without getting boring or predictable. Guitarist Mitch is in a good shape today and makes songs like Strong Arm, Deceiver, When All Is Said And Donelive even stronger than on the album. Personally I am happy that Silence Is Deafening is on the setlist as well.
Many well known hits are played, and it is a pleasure to be an eye-witness of this dynamic show, also because Barney is very talkative and creates a good atmosphere. Polite as always with his British accent and it sounds so much better than the screams and aggressive shouting parts from the American bands this weekend. Its totally a different world then, and after more than twenty years it is a fact that this band is going strong with a strong adrenaline and motivation in their bones, lots of respect for that!
An other uptempo band is Ill Nino with their roots in South-America, totally different in compare with other nu-metal artists. It is all about the adrenaline and how fast you can scream ‘ fuck.’ Unbelievable how often vocalist Christian Machado it repeats, till it irritates a lot. Nevertheless the whole Pain Stage is shaking and their sound is perfect.
All elements of a good show are there when they kick off with such a uncontrolled vibe, that only promise an erasing of anger and goorvy metal. Te Amo I Hate You has fast guitars, on top tortured grunts and grows into Corazon Of Mine when the drums transform in a heartbeat. The Latin roots, melodic parts mixed with nu-metal, creates an unique format. When the singers arms start to shake it proves that he screams his longs out, waving with his dreadlocks. There is a lot of emotion in a good way, it brings the energy you need to have a good festival vibe.
Finnish bands dominate the day a bit. Also The 69 Eyes are creating a catching sound, but aren’t progressive at all. They create a dark atmosphere, you also know from HIM. It isn’t a big surprise when he whole first row is filled with screaming girls and I wonder where they came from so sudden. The band has a good reputation, so I was curious to see them live on stage, but somehow they are disappointing me. Maybe its because of the provoked and slow voice from Jurki. He is creating a whole act around him, but I can’t take it very serious when he tries to be a second Elvis. The musicians are for sure very talented, but that is not good enough to impress for a whole hour.
Die Apocalyptischen Reiter is German proud with a reason, always they surprise me how popular they are. The whole field is packed. It’s been a long time since’ ‘ One Cold Winters Night’ ’ in Oberhausen, and today they have a spectacle with their metal meets folk influences. Their show is dynamic and there happens a lot on stage. It is hilarious to see a man sliding down with a big belly and a black mask on. Vocalist Fuchs screams too much, what makes the show indeed aggressive, but you have to like a raw voice on top of it.
There is a lot of interaction with the audience and I must say the crowd is amazing, showing that much energy at the end of a long day. Rammstein meets some German traditional roots and I guess you have to be more open minded than me to see the melodylines and become a real fan. It is a good entertaining moment, but not a musical challenge to me.
An other Finnish metal band Swallow The Sun personally requested to play the Party Tent instead of the bigger main stage, because they want darkness and less light. Expected an intense show what surrounds you like a black blanket, comfortable and scary at the same time.
Opener ‘These Woods Breathe Evil’ drags you down, not into the mud ,but to follow their songs and be open for the special atmosphere. Silouettes are standing there frozen against blue light. There is vocalist Mikko Kotamäki again, this time showing a totally different side of his voice. Still hanging over the microphone and smoking a cigarette with a thoughtless glance in his eyes.
Standing on a row, the band members let the music talks for itself in a way: they are simply standing there and don’t move at all during their intense performance. It suits the music very well, because you stay focussed on the little details. Like a absent smile from Markus Jamsen on guitar, in the corner. Aleksi Munter on keyboards is turning around to the drummer in the back, a moment of interaction.
From the side of the stage it is very impressive to see all those fans in the crowd, a strong mass of people, totally into the performance of five musicians. ‘Don’t Fall Asleep, Sleepless Swans and New Moon’ make the set strong with high guitars suddenly switching from a groovy to a minimalistic rhythm. Whispers are mixed with screams and grunts. Always searching for the contrasts, that is a master talent from these men. Especially the keyboards are a strong element in the doom, dark atmosphere in that combination.
It is impossible to analyse without sounding flat and not giving right to the story. It is about breathing, empathy and being a part of the music. The emotions are filling the whole tent easily, why?
Because Swallow The Sun knows their strength and they are so easy to get into like My Dying Bride on the other day. It is a talent you rarely find among musicians, to open up completely without a huge performance or mask between the one on stage and the crowd. Sadly enough I couldn’t be there during the promotion tour of ‘New Moon’ but they will return in December. To me it was the best band on the whole festival weekend!
Luckily ‘ we’ have Obituary to show the world what perfect death metal means. There is no band going strong for so long and still have a remarkable good reputation. They fulfil the expectations more than you can imagine! There is frontman John Tardy with his long blond hair, growling and screaming in a most melodic way. The whole setlist has a promise of high quality and lot’s of energy. Songs like Evil Ways, The End Complete and of course Slowly We Rot are played in a very uptempo, smooth set and close to perfection. In my opinion even better than on the albums.
The band is touring the world right now, and it is impressive how they find the motivation to give two hundred present today. Impressive, unforgettable and excellent promise for the future!
Subway To Sally comes with a lot of pyros to impress as a headliner on the main stage. Perhaps it is because I am not German, but to me their sound is totally a riddle, and even unbelievable why they are headliner of such a great day. It totally doesn’t fulfil the expectations you have from the last band on the big stage. Their rock from Potsdam is a bit flat, or maybe the impressions of the whole day are filling my head too much. The folk roots are there, and nowadays that combination with metal is very popular. Vocalist Eric Fisch sounds raw and enthusiastic toward the fans, but music wise it is not my cup of tea.
Clapping hands during Puppenspieler from the front till the back is very impressive, and Kleid Aus is a real hit and all the German fans are singing along. The violin from Silke makes it interesting to listen to. The traditional instruments like lute, mandolin, a small barrel-organ are very entertaining and definitely something extra, but the voice is the weakest point.
Behemoth was supposed to close the Pain Stage on this sunny Thursday, but unfortanatly one of their members became serious will. A good replacement is found in Endstille. Both bands have their roots in the old school black metal and created an unique sound over the years. A new record is in the making, but the band choices to have a diversity of songs. With their new vocalist Zingultus they found a well fitting member of the band and it doesn’t take much time to get used to his tortured voice, inclusive all the corpse-paint. Finally the day is over, a long intense festival edition and even more days to follow.
Thankword to: Summer Breeze Organisation, David Silverdust, Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth.