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Swallow The Sun - Moonflowers review


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Band: Swallow The Sun
Album: Moonflowers
Release date: November 2021

Disc I
01. Moonflowers Bloom In Misery
02. Enemy
03. Woven Into Sorrow
04. Keep Your Heart Safe From Me
05. All Hallows' Grieve [feat. Cammie Gilbert]
06. The Void
07. The Fight Of Your Life
08. This House Has No Home

Disc II [Limited edition]
01. Moonflowers Bloom In Misery [classical version]
02. Enemy [classical version]
03. Woven Into Sorrow [classical version]
04. Keep Your Heart Safe From Me [classical version]
05. All Hallows' Grieve [feat. Cammie Gilbert] [classical version]
06. The Void [classical version]
07. The Fight Of Your Life [classical version]
08. This House Has No Home [classical version]

Grief changes shape, but it never ends.

Doom metal is pretty sad. Not sure if you noticed. But usually that is a very ambiguous type of melancholy, one that the listener can use as a mirror for whatever melancholy they're feeling. Swallow The Sun's music was never sunshine and rainbows, but one death still leaves such strong a mark that it's hard to imagine anything on Moonflowers being about anything else. When Aleah Starbridge, the life partner and Trees Of Eternity bandmate of Juha Raivio, died, it became clear that a lot of effort came from Juha to channel that grief. And, in a strange way, more music from or for Aleah came after her death than before it: the Trees Of Eternity debut album, the newly formed Hallatar, her own Aleah project, and also Swallow The Sun's When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light. Now there's a new Swallow The Sun.

The thing is, When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light took its title from a Trees Of Eternity song, and was clearly dedicated to Aleah's memory. It's obvious that that grief still permeates Moonflowers, but I feel it would be pretty soulless and voyeuristic to try and dissect how much Moonflowers was inspired by Aleah's death, how much by the lockdown, and how much by whatever inspired the band's songwriting before the two. Will every review of Swallow The Sun's albums henceforth have to mention Aleah's death? One could binge the entire Swallow The Sun discography, and they wouldn't notice that something happened to fundamentally alter the band's sound. It's melancholic, gothic and melodic death doom.

Well, what does feel a bit different is that Moonflowers feels closer to gothic doom than death doom, because of how the harsher moments are more sparingly used. Songs like "The Void" have a pretty goth rock feel to them, at least a chuck of it injected in their usual doom sound. "All Hallows Grieve" is a duet with Oceans Of Slumber's Cammie Gilbert that works really well. There are obviously some harsher moments, but by far the most impactful is the blackened ending of the closer, "This House Has No Home". But as a whole, it's probably not that far off from the melancholy of the usual Swallow The Sun sound, just with more grief and ennui this time around.

I've been more of an appreciator of Swallow The Sun's music rather than a dedicated fan, so I'm probably not the best person to judge how Moonflowers sits in the Swallow The Sun discography. I can just tell you that it is at the very least worth you time. But what I can say from my own experience with their music is that my favorite album of theirs was Songs From The North, a triple disc album where each disc was a different genre, and thus saw them try out neofolk and funeral doom too. It's a concept that far too few bands try out, and I was curious to see how it would make Swallow The Sun evolve their sound. Then tragedy struck. And even if there were moments in the last two albums that tinge on neofolk and funeral doom, it's not much.

What did make me bring this up here is the fact that something did translate to Moonflowers: the multi disc approach. It might not be original music in another genre, instead being orchestral versions of the album's songs done by Trio NOX. But firstly, it's great to hear something other than goth doom from the band. Secondly, this is probably the Swallow The Sun album best fit for an orchestral version. And lastly, the orchestral version is even more concise, thus leaving aside all possible moments that dragged.

And I think that placing flowers on the moon is the best way to pay tribute to someone from the celestial plane.

Written on 26.11.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 10   Visited by: 230 users
26.11.2021 - 19:17

A thoroughly enjoyable album, as always. For me, it still lacks that elusive wow factor I haven't found in any of their albums except the debut, but at least they're consistently putting out good stuff. That is already a real achievement.
26.11.2021 - 19:56
Dream Taster
The Enemy Within
An impressive album with quality moments. More of a softer, reflective album than their previous one.

Your review is awesome!
26.11.2021 - 23:45
Rating: 9
Green Devil
I really love that chorus in The Void. Such a beautiful song and for me it's the best one on the album. And that second disc with Trio NOX is probably the most beautiful instrumental album of the year. It could easily have been released as standalone album of its own.
"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
27.11.2021 - 13:26
Rating: 9
Duck Dodgers

Great album, however I had high expectation for Cammie's participation and I was let down. Her voice feels so underused. It could be any other female vocalist and it would still sound exactly the same. Rest album is awesome though.
27.11.2021 - 13:42
Rating: 8

Its a good album, but not sure if it will reach the previous one, since that was very close to my soul...time will tell.
27.11.2021 - 14:58
Rating: 8

Written by Duck Dodgers on 27.11.2021 at 13:26

Great album, however I had high expectation for Cammie's participation and I was let down. Her voice feels so underused. It could be any other female vocalist and it would still sound exactly the same. Rest album is awesome though.

I agree with underused - definitely. I was surprised by such choice, but it sounded very intimate in some way. Just like a passing thought, just a minor ingredient for the song - unintrusive.
28.11.2021 - 00:20

It feels to me like Cammie got too buried in the mix to have her full impact, but then pulling her out of the mix and giving her more space would have changed the overall feel of the song as well, since Mikko has such a delicate clean vocal and the overall sound is much more of a wash of instruments. Think for Cammie to really shine she would have had to get the whole song rather than a duet, and then it would have stood out from the others too much to sit in the middle of the album.
Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy
28.11.2021 - 09:28
Metal Spartan

Good review. Gonna basically say what I did in the other thread: Another great album from STS. The only thing that prevents it from reaching masterpiece status is that this is basically a continuation of When Shadow is Forced Into the Light. Seems it's another album dedicated to Aleah so it's not necessarily a major criticism, but I wish they would speed up the tempo just a bit on the overall album as they did on previous albums.
It's a surprise when we finally hear a blast beat on the final song, This House Has No Home (something we haven't heard from them in years), but by that time I was thinking, "why didn't they do this earlier?" That said, the melodies on this are so memorable that it about justifies the lack of a faster tempo.
02.12.2021 - 00:55
Rating: 9

Really deep and emotional álbum, lots of moments to remember. This is one of the best records of the year, no question about that.

I can´t highlight just one song, the whole álbum is very, very good.
02.12.2021 - 03:12
Dream Taster
The Enemy Within
Also, the opening track has one of the most emotional growls I have ever heard. On par with bands such as Saturnus.

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