Swallow the Sun are a Finnish melodic doom/death group who formed in 2000. They released a fantastic debut album in 2003, and this February they released their 5th full-length effort.
I should start this off by saying that I really, really wanted to love this album. Their debut "The Morning Never Came" was great, and ever since I first heard that record I've found myself rooting for these guys. Sadly, while this new release was by no means a bad effort, I was not particularly thrilled with it either.
The overall sound is doomy and melodic, with a vaguely Gothic sensibility. The musical composition is hauntingly beautiful in many places, though it is capable of rising up in torrents of death metal aggression before smoothly carrying the listener away again on its melodic current. Wonderfully delicate guitar passages link the musically fuller portions of the songs, giving the overall sound an excellent ebb and flow. In this area, the band has lost nothing over the years. That does not mean that all is well, though.
The overwhelmingly major problem I have with this record is the vocalist. He resorts to rather dry clean vocals far too often. When he does rise up to harsher ranges, his mighty bellows of old have given way to thinner and less compelling shrieks. There are also a few places where his halfway-point between these two styles reminds me far too much of the vocal devolution experienced by Anders Fridén circa "Soundtrack to Your Escape". There are still moments where he manages to recapture the power and command of his earlier work, and when he does this record really shines. Unfortunately, these moments are too few to carry the weight of his generally uninspiring performance throughout the bulk of this album.
The music is excellent, but the vocals are disappointingly mediocre.