In contrast to popular belief, expressing depression through music is actually a very positive outlet. While there are many genres of music that express these emotions, slow and somber, with a heart-wrenching progression, often wins the race. This is something translates to Progressive Doom Metal mixed with a touch of Black Metal, and of the one band who excels in this is Finland’s Swallow The Sun. Around since the early 2000s, and continuously putting out quality material, they recently returned with their latest work of art, Moonflowers, on November 19, 2021 through Century Media Records.
As mentioned, Swallow The Sun has been together for over two decades, but even still, they possess a wealth of knowledge that dates back to the predecessors of their time. Their style is a unique mix of genres, and their songs are all ranging as they often span 6-9 minutes in length. While Moonflowers has plenty of gut-wrenching and beautiful vocals throughout, thanks to Mikko Kotamäki, they also released a bonus instrumental album composed of strings and performed by a group called Trio NOX in an old church in Finland, Sipoo Church.
Instead of breaking down each songs on Moonflowers – for what could be a long, drab, yet sheik journey – it seems best to approach to this gloriously depressing album as a whole. With titles like “Moonflowers Bloom In Misery,” “All Hallows Grieve,” “The Fight Of Your Life,” and “Keep Your Heart Safe From Me” it seems apparent there will be no talk of rainbows or bunnies allowed. Instead, you are left staring into your own fluid reflection as the dark blood in the water seeps over, and it covers any of your recognizable human features under the moonlight sky. Ironically, Guitarist Juha Raivio painted the moon on the album cover himself with his own blood, and used dried flowers he had collected years before. All of these elements coming together making for an elaborately and successfully doom-driven record.
Some of the gothic musical imagery on Moonflowers created lends itself to early My Dying Bride material. A band that hold a very high reputation for getting Gothic Doom perfected, Swallow The Sun has channeled such an inner darkness and true misery that they also confronted with their brand of beautifully progressive blackened Doom Metal. This may have been planned, or it might be one of those cases where a happy accident occurred. What ever the case may be, the depressive tone of Moonflowers is just so raw, that those who can understand it’s pain can still find a way to float up and dance with it.
Swallow The Sun seems to do best when they engulf themselves in their own grief and pour their musical hearts out. Doing so yet again, Moonflowers is an album with many brilliantly sorrowful arrangements. An album that can be cherished for years to come, Cryptic Rock gives Moonflowers 5 out of 5 stars.