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Swallow the Sun: Hope

Hope indeed...that's probably the last thing you'd expect to think about when listening to a release from Finland's masters of doom, gloom, melancholy, and death metal, the mighty Swallow the Sun. On their third album Hope, the band actually offers up some varied tempos and arrangements, and much like Novermber's Doom have stepped up the pace on their latest, Swallow the Sun have added some extra elements to their sound, resulting in a powerful and rich presentation that should appeal to any lover of dark metal. In fact, these eight tracks are so strong, it's safe to say that Swallow the Sun have put together a release that easily compares with some of the best the genre has turned out over the years from bands like Amorphis, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Sentenced, Katatonia, Anathema, and November's Doom.

With crushing guitar riffs, waves of keyboards, and some of the best death/doom growls you are likely to hear, tunes like "The Justice of Suffering", "Hope", and "These Hours of Despair" just kill with powerful intensity and drip with heavy emotions of tragic loss. The use of Katatonia styled clean vocals with the brutal Opeth/November's Doom influenced deep growls is just so well done, and adds a great variety and sense of depth to these songs. The shimmering, gothic sounding keyboards add a majestic touch to the brooding melancholy of "Don't Fall Asleep (Horror Part 2)", a song that dips back and forth between a moody, atmospheric piece to thunderous doomy death metal, again utilizing clean and growled vocals. The 9-minute death march "Too Cold For Tears" is dark, depressing doom, splattered with touches of Pink Floyd-styled space prog, but otherwise features huge guitar dirges, plodding rhythms, and grisly death growls. The band opts for speedier old school death metal with a touch of symphonics on "Empty Skies", and simply crushes the listener to an early death on the bone chilling masterpiece "Doomed To Walk The Earth". This last one conjures up plenty of dark, cold atmosphere, with eerie keyboards, brutally slow and heavy guitar riffs, and bleak, tortured vocal growls. The wonderful piano, acoustic guitar, and synth passages near the end of this 8+ minute gem only adds to the somber mood and delicate yet at the same time thunderous nature of this strikingly fragile piece.

Honestly, there's no "hope" in sight after listening to this dark, morose, yet stunningly gorgeous album, other than the fact that there's all the hope in world that this release will elevate Swallow the Sun as an elite band in the world of doom metal. It should, as Hope is that good.

Track Listing
1. Hope
2. These Hours Of Despair
3. Justice Of Suffering
4. Don'T Fall Asleep (Horror Part 2)
5. Too Cold For Tears
6. Empty Skies
7. No Light, No Hope
8. Doomed To Walk The Earth

Added: July 29th 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Swallow the Sun Website
Hits: 5930
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Swallow the Sun: Hope
Posted by Franklin Williams, III, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-07-28 20:16:44
My Score:

Music reviews are sometimes a real pain - by the time I find something really good and hit to see if a review is posted, I find someone has always written something. Over the years of listening, researching and writing mental reviews, I have often found myself in agreement with many of the writers here. Pete has a fantastic ear, writes succinct reviews, and always leaves me with a favorable impression. When I stumble across something heavy that I really like I usually find Pete has already been there. As usual his analysis is very thorough and accurate. The only comment I can possibly offer is, in the end, both inconsequential and insignificant.

In this case, enthusiasm has gotten the best of me.

Several tunes in Hope have embellishments from guest vocalists that add the Midas touch to a strong set of compositions by an effectively talented band. "Justice of Suffering " contains contrasting clean-vocals sung by Jonas Renkse. Tinuviel provides the female voices in "These Hours of Despair ", "Don't Fall Asleep ", and "Doomed to Walk the Earth ". Janni Peuhu provides the additional vocal embellishments in "Don't Fall Asleep (Horror pt. 2.)". Though brief, their contributions are stunning. Without these minor 'ethereal' embellishments the overall impact of the album would be greatly diminished. Though crushingly brutal, these additions make Hope a thing of extraordinary beauty. Goya, anyone?

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