Swallow The Sun – Emerald Forest and the Blackbird (2012)


Like a fine aging wine, today we have the North American promotional cycle for Swallow The Sun’s latest opus “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird”. And while we already had this release in awesome green vinyl for quite a while (available here) , we are finally writing a review for this masterpiece. With four full-length releases already under their belts, the band does an excellent job in pushing their sound into a more melancholic and even more depressing vibe that is rarely equaled by any other band these days.

Founder Juha Raivio has managed to keep the band’s sound evolving little by little, and by keeping most of the band together since 2001 (the drummer left in 2009), they have grown very well as a unit and this album demonstrates it clearly. Opening with the very mellow “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird”, the band immediately sets a very somber and dense mood that is the exact trademark of Swallow the Sun. The riffs are very powerful and the tempo changes are perfectly introduced to keep the listener engaged in this nearly ten-minute long opener.

With a similar vibe, but a 180 degree twist in the musical approach, “This Cut is the Deepest” is a very mellow and intoxicating track with excellent lyrics. The typical STS aggression returns with “Hate, Lead the Way”, with Mikko using his harsher Black Metal vocals as he used to do in Alghazanth and some other STS tracks, Aleksi’s keyboard work is excellent in this track, bringing the atmospheric elements into a very intense frenzy. The first standout track of this release comes with the title “Cathedral Walls”, and it features the excellent Anette Olzon on guest vocals. With a very mellow and dark atmosphere, this is one of the most chilling tracks the band has ever written, and we love it for this.

The album keeps flowing with the very well crafted “Hearts Wide Shut”, but it’s not until “Silent Towers” that the listeners are treated to more traditional STS songs with excellent melodic atmospheres and brutal speedups filled with gut-wrenching growls. Our favorite track in this release is the soul-crushing “Labyrinth of London”, an emotionally intense track that features excellent riffs, crushing vocals and intense spoken passages that nicely create a very eerie listening experience.

Before finishing up the release, the band unleashes yet another masterpiece under the title of “April 14th”. This track also features very interesting mood changes that just leave the listener speechless at the number many variants the band can use to not sound repetitive and yet transfer the same emotions of hopelessness. Closing with a high note, “Night Will Forgive Us” brings this release to a full cycle that will surely satisfy any fan of the band and convert a few of the non-believers they have.

We can’t say enough words to fully recommend and endorse this excellent release by Swallow the Sun. “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird” has everything we loved from the band in the past, and with more song-writing maturity thrown into the mix, we get one of the best Melodic Death/Doom releases in the history of the genre.

Band: Swallow The Sun Album: Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
Label: Spinefarm Records

Release: September 4th, 2012

Oficial Site myspace

Genre: Melodic Death/Doom Metal

Country: Finland

Rating: 93/100

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