Swallow The Sun - The Morning Never Came

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: OLY 0243-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:12:00

You see a band name like Swallow The Sun and an album title The Morning Never Came and you expect something rather gloomy right? Learn that it's on a Century Media imprint - Olympic Recordings* - and you expect gloomy metal. Well, the expectation is correct. This is dark and doomy metal - but leavened with quite a bit of texture. So, it should also appeal to the progressive metal folks... and, in a few cases, the progressive rock folks. Really? Progressive rock? Yes, but do read this whole review before you prog rock folks go buy it... caveat emptor and all that.

Swallow The Sun are a Finnish septet, and this is their debut (as I write this, their second release, Ghosts Of Loss has been out a few months). They formed in 2000 by members of Plutonium Orange - Juha Raivio (guitars) and Pasi Pasanen (drums). The next to join was guitarist Markus Jämsen and later Mikko Kotamäki (Funeris Nocturnum) joined first as bassist and vocalist, though it was later decided that a dedicated bassist was needed, so Matti Honkonen (Funeris Nocturnum) was recruited. Completeing the line up is keyboardist Aleksi Munter.

Musically, The Morning Never Came is quite good, at times hauntingly beautiful. It starts out sounding rather ordinary with "Through Her Silvery Body" (aside from an atypical keyboard phrase that sounds more proggy than doomy), but the musical delights lie deeper within. Once there, we get a high caliber sound that can mix chiming, shimmery, soaring guitar leads with the dark and heavy chugging typical of the genre. Keyboards provide lovely beds of sound (and some nice piano interludes during "Silence Of The Womb") while we get sometimes walking bass lines when they split off from the main rhythm. All backed by more than decent drumming - that doesn't fall in love with double-bass... or even single bass, for that matter. It's just lovely symphonic dark metal that reminds me of many folks at various times - Nevermore, Evergrey, Metallica... and, in the progressive metal/heavy prog rock realm, and because I was listening to them recently, NovAct and Riverside. Epic... did I say that already? A couple examples are the lush "Hold This Woe" and the shimmery "Under The Waves." Oddly, or interestingly, enough, one might even think a bit of The Wall period Pink Floyd towards the end "Under The Waves" ... heavier, doomier, to be sure, but the dark descending notes remind me of ... parts of "Another Brick In The Wall" And the chiming, bell-ringing-like (death-knell?) guitar phrases that begin "The Morning Never Came" sure sound a tad David Gilmore-esque... or...um... dare I say, Steve Rothery? (I think so, circa Seasons End or Brave). This album's musical highlights begin with "Out Of This Gloomy Light" and then carry right on through to the cover of Candlemass' "Solitude" - a bonus track on the US release of this album (but also available on the "Forgive Her..." CD-single which was released in Finland only). If this bonus is the exact same version, the vocals here are by Sir Albert Witchfinder of Reverend Bizarre.

"Swallow (Part 1)" has such a swinging melody to start out that you might find yourself humming along. That's not a bad thing - though it might be in doom metal circles, I suppose... But, it's also has a deep-toned chug that will remind you that this is not a pop band. The song that I think combines all the best aspects of the band is "Silence Of The Womb." It's an emotional moment that just reaches out and grabs.

And here's where I need to mention the caveat emptor, prog rock and prog metal folks: Atop this darkly epic lovely atmosphere of the album we get... (sigh)... death-metal vocals. It's all makes me ask one question - why? I should have known, it being Olympic Recordings, but... I was suddenly disappointed. I don't mind rough vocals - e.g. James Hetfield, Tom Englund. But, for me personally, I just don't get these "winds of hell vocals." As an effect, yes, in the context of a "cleaner" whole. But throughout the whole production? Which is why "Silence Of The Womb" and "Hold This Woe" - which is probably their most textured piece, with tinkly keyboards, snickering percussion, and singing twin guitars contrasting with denser, heavier metal boominess... and emotionally tortured clean vocals -- appeal the most to me overall.

I've not seen all the lyrics (only snippets are printed in the booklet), but... I sort get the feeling this is a concept album, and that something very horrific has happened in this lonely, isolated, wood cabin. And I sense that these "clean" moments are our protagonist have moments of lucidity, seeing what horrible thing he has done while possessed by some inner demons. His darker nature dominates, so these moments of regret, of feeling loss, are brief. During "Silence..." the death vocals linger in the background, behind the lead clean vocals, which suggest this short-lived struggle between the dark and light aspects. We can interpret the album title in several ways - here are two: One is that morning represents light and that full lucidity never came to our protagonist. Two, we might suppose that our protagonist, in a brief moment of lucidity, killed himself. Or, three, that the final horror happens, and the morning never came for his victim... The brief snatches of lyric that are included suggest we have a personal tale of a couple where the male protagonist has slipped off the deep end, for one reason or another, and has killed his lover...

So, vocals aside - which are good, in that they fit the subject matter and the mood being created, but I'm just not fond of them as a device - this is a wonderful release. The nice thing is, for me at least, is that this isn't overwhelmingly vocal-heavy. Meaning the fabulous instrumentation can be heard right through.

*In September, CM had to cease using the term "Olympic," it being held in copyright by the US Olympic Committee... Album was originally released in 2003 by Firebox

Through Her Silvery Body (8:42) / Deadly Nightshade (5:50) / Out Of This Gloomy Light (5:39) / Swallow (Horror Pt. 1) (5:25) / Silence Of The Womb (6:52) / Hold This Woe (8:06) / Under The Waves (6:48) / The Morning Never Came (9:21) / Bonus Track: Solitude (6:23)

Juha Raivio -guitars
Pasi Pasanen -drums
Markus J?msen - guitars
Mikko Kotam?ki - vocals
Matti Honkonen - bassist
Aleksi Munter - keyboards

The Morning Never Came (2003/2005)
Ghosts Of Loss (2005)

Genre: Dark-Doom Metal

Origin FI

Added: January 5th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.swallowthesun.net
Hits: 959
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]