Finnish Death-Doom Metallers Swallow The Sun will release the live album, 20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair – Live in Helsinki to celebrate their anniversary.
Swallow The Sun – 20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair – Live in Helsinki (Century Media Records)
Release Date: 30 July 2021
Words: Jools Green
Initially, they were set to play anniversary shows across Europe and North America, but thanks to COVID-19, like so many other bands, their plans were scuppered. They started their European tour in Finland in February 2020 and playing just ten gigs before everything got cancelled, and the world, in many ways, ground to a halt, so it was pretty fortuitous that they filmed and recorded the Helsinki gig, a small consolation for fans who had planned to see them but were robbed of the opportunity.
“Luckily, we filmed and recorded our gig in Helsinki,” vocalist Mikko Kotamäki said. “Now, everyone can see it. At the time, we didn’t know the footage or recordings would be used for this purpose.”
Solid, well-delivered material
The setlist for that evening was recorded live on 26 February 2020 at Tavastia Club.
Sound-wise it’s a very good live recording that contains solid, well-delivered material end to end. The first eight tracks, an acoustic set, feature the entire second disc of the Songs From The North album, is good, but for me, this half doesn’t deliver the dark passion, soul ripping emotion of the second half of the set. I’m just not a fan of acoustic sets.
The songs for the second half, set two, were selected via a fan poll on social media, asking for their favourite tracks from the remaining albums in their catalogue. This is a whole different story, the fan’s made a superb choice, and the band did an equally superb job of delivering them. I doubt I would change any of them if I were asked to write a similar list.
It’s the longer set of the two, thankfully and a dark, passionate and powerful one. Filled with harsh vocals and tracks all drawn from their other six studio releases and the first and third disc of Songs From The North triple album, it is definitely the better half of the set from my personal perspective.
This set plunges into the dark, doomy depths of emotion. It begins with, Lost And Catatonic, from Songs From The North, disc one, with its powerful symphonics and chorals, haunting cleans, powerful growls and soul tearing melody. It is a track that makes a powerful statement.
This is followed by the ominous, thunderous, soul ripping Empires Of Loneliness, with its superb range of vocals from Mikko. Sinister spoken cleans, growls and acerbic hisses from the third Songs From The North disc, the level of soul tearing emotion is maintained with the haunting Falling World, from New Moon, then the dark reflective Cathedral Walls, from Emerald Forest And The Blackbird, is followed by the magnificently dark and acerbic Plague Of Butterflies (Pt. II).
Most iconic piece of work
Then probably their most iconic piece of work and what I suspect is most people’s favourite Swallow The Sun track, including mine, the engagingly unnerving Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror, Pt. II) from Hope.
The set continues with the reflective Stone Wings, from When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light, then The Giant, an epic duration beast with thunderous bursts of raw growling vocals, taken from Ghosts Of Loss. The unnervingly haunting Swallow (Horror, Pt. I) from The Morning Never Came follows, and finally, Here On The Black Earth, also from When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light.
Ultimately this live album, available as a Digipak 2CD + DVD, is sure to be a massive hit with the fans, whichever tracks you favour.
Also available as vinyl versions which will be available in the following colours and limitations:
Black vinyl, unlimited
Golden vinyl, limited to 200 copies worldwide, only available at Levykauppa Äx
Dark green vinyl, limited to 200 copies worldwide, available at CMDistro
Deep blood red vinyl, limited to 200 copies worldwide, only available at EMP
Mint coloured vinyl, limited to 200 copies worldwide, only available Nuclear Blast
Glow in the dark vinyl, limited to 200 copies worldwide, only available at the official band store
Physical formats can be pre-ordered from swallowthesun.lnk.to/20YearsOfGloomBeautyAndDespair-LiveInHelsinki