November 5, 2012

Swallow The Sun - The Morning Never Came (2003)

I might have mentioned this band a couple of times before in my articles, especially in the special (eh…) from two weeks ago, so I thought it’s I give them the proper spotlight and present to you their best work yet.

You see, these guys are an odd bunch. They play a blend of melodic doom metal infused with death bits for flavoring and since 2003 they released a handful of songs for me to dabble in. The problem is, with the exception of the “Plague of Butterflies” EP, STS albums have suffered from a slow but steady decrease in quality, up to the point where their last offering couldn’t hold my interest for more than a couple of listens before disregarding it completely.  That being said, I’m left to their debut release, “The Morning Never Came”, a masterfully crafted piece of doom metal in which clean vocals are used sparingly and synths act more as an instrument than an “atmosphere enhancer”.

The record starts with possibly its best song, ‘Through her silvery body’, a slow burner that creeps in by way of an excellent piano part and encompasses all the elements that makes this album so magnificent: competent transitions, tasteful drumming, out of this world soloing and probably my favorite cookie monster type of growl ever. Really, Mikko’s vocals sound so delightfully tortured here that I wonder just how many souls did he ate for breakfast in the days “The Morning Never Came” was being recorded.

After an great intro, every track that follows takes its time to develop and the band pulls of some great tricks as you can recognize them by some trademark element: ‘Deadly Nightshade’ is a little more upbeat in times of tempo and has probably the best solo from the entire album, ‘Out of this gloomy light’ is balls out insane, again with a face-melting solo at the end (I’ve had the beginning of this track as a ringtone for many years); then comes ‘Swallow (Horror Pt.1)’ with the most epic bit of head banging you can find on a doom metal release and I realize that I’ve just arrived at the middle of the album and I’m fussing and acting out like a little girl on crack. 

I can’t help it, it’s too good of an LP. And when you thought you heard just about everything, the final part of ‘Silence of the Womb’ hits like a delirious night train and if you previously had any love for infants, it will probably go away for good. Really now, after this song, I’ve never been able to look at a new-born with the same eyes.

‘Hold This Woe’ acts more as the commercial part of the album as it’s probably the most accessible song here, but underneath it all lies yet another great doom metal tune. The seventh track, ‘Under the Waves’, is probably the letdown of the album, as it doesn’t stand out from the crowd with any particular hooks. But then it slowly segues into the closing piece and I remember that the first time listened to this album I was walking through a snowy road, headphones on and slowly creeping with the best of them, while Mikko was belting out the words like a tortured animal on its death bed.

“One night it happened
The morning never came
The clocks tick anew this same hour of dark
And if we had only known
That it would last forever
We would have forgiven ourselves
And let the snow bury us together”

Epic stuff, I tell you, and again one of the better songs on the album.

And then it ends. And you’ll probably reach for the repeat button, that is if you don’t take the time to listen to the bonus track, a cover of Candlemass’s ‘Solitude’, where STS yet again put the banging in headbanging.

That being said, I leave you with a sample, hoping you’ll like it just as much as I do and eventually listen to the whole conundrum.
Pros: great solos, a bass guitar that steers off the usual pat, murky production, focus on growls.

Cons: ’Under the Waves’ doesn’t keep to the standards.

Highlights: Through Her Silvery Body, Swallow (Horror Pt.1), The Morning Never Came

Rating: 9.5

Track List

1. Through Her Silvery Body
2. Deadly Nighshade
3. Out of This Gloomy Light
4. Swallow (Horror Pt.1)
5. Silence of the Womb
6. Hold This Woe
7. Under the Waves
8. The Morning Never Came 

P.S: With all my nitpicking towards their later albums, I recommend you see them live if you have the occasion. I did and I was not disappointed.

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