Swallow The Sun – Songs From The North I, II and III (Century Media)

Genre: Gothic Metal/Doom

There’s ambitious and then there’s putting out three albums’ worth of new material in one epic package… it’s doubtful that even Iron Maiden would attempt such a feat. Yet Swallow The Sun have done just that – and perhaps created their definitive work in the process. Songs From The North strides right across the Finns’ gloomy soundscapes, and while every note is imbued with sorrow, the sextet force you to feel the misery in many different ways. They’re masters of the black arts – even if their music is hard to digest at times.

I is closest to the titanic – and at times beautiful – death/doom that Swallow The Sun have long called their own, with 10 Silver Bullets and Rooms and Shadows the pick of the bunch. III, meanwhile, is an excursion into soul crushing darkness. The funereal Abandoned By The Light sums the album up perfectly, dropping to a snail’s pace and featuring some genuinely disturbing vocals from Mikko Kotamäki.

However, it’s the second part of the Songs… trio that is the most intriguing: a glistening, largely acoustic collection that marks the band out as truly accomplished songwriters. The Heart of a Cold White Land is simple and utterly majestic, spurred by a sparkling vocal performance, while you can almost feel the air crackle throughout Before The Summer Dies, such is the electrifying atmosphere it creates.

Songs From The North I, II and III could be too much for one sitting – it takes a long time to fully absorb. But in an age of shuffles and short attention spans, Swallow The Sun should be applauded for both their bold vision and dedication to their craft.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Shining Through