Swallow The Sun: Songs From The North
A glorious compendium of gloom
It’s hard not to gasp with admiration at the sheer bloody size of this thing: a triple album, no less, and a sumptuous 154 minutes of brand new music.
Swallow The Sun have never exactly been short of ideas, but Songs From The North is a bold, audacious statement. Divided into three distinct parts, each of which would work perfectly well as a standalone album, this is an authoritative lesson in pacing and dynamics. It’s also unfathomably absorbing from graceful start to delirious finish and, most startling of all, it contains barely a single shred of filler.
Whether intentionally or not, Part I feels very much like a legitimate sequel to 2012’s majestic Emerald Forest And The Blackbird. From the gradual build and glacial drift of opener With You Came The Whole Of The World’s Tears onwards, there is stately ebb and flow in abundance, Mikko Kotamäki’s increasingly impressive voice leading us through harsh, forbidding landscapes and suffocating clouds of mystery and despair. There are songs as straightforwardly beautiful as Heartstrings Shattering, its shades of Katatonia at their most fragile underpinned by the grittiest of doom-laden gaits, and as bleakly opulent as closer From Happiness To Dust. Nothing feels wasted: even the slowest moments have real momentum and every melody carries a sting in its tail.