Report and Photos by: Samuli Keskitalo
Welcome to Finland. The land where winters are mostly cold, long and dark. Some would say that fits good together with the doom metal genre. And why not? Doom metal usually is a long and dark themed music and cold in some cases. All that is also our lovely doom metal flagship Swallow The Sun, who just released their sixth full-length album, which was aptly named Songs From The North I, II & III. That record contains three albums as one package and are very easily the strongest and most beautiful Swallow The Sun what we have ever heared. And in this case we Finns are very lucky to have a full tour of that band and that material as well. I haven’t ever been in to a gig, where Swallow The Sun have been headlining, so I didn’t have many expectations for how long the show would be, what the atmosphere would be like and so on. But now after that gig in Seinäjoki I would easily just say: it went very well. And I’m very glad, that the new album had a strong presence there.
The night began with another domestic doom metal act, called Hanging Garden. There wasn’t many people at Rytmikorjaamo, when they started, but that seemed not to bother the band. Their music was unknown to me, but they reminded me of what many other doom metal bands normally sound like.. Maybe in another situation I would become a fan of them. You never know. Full points to the singer though. That was the best part of the band to my ears.
Another act before the main act came on, this time a local one, End Time Design from Seinäjoki. Now we were are not very deep in the doom metal genre, this act was a little bit of a faster one and had nice load of energy at the stage. I’m not very familiar with this band, so can’t say how often they make gigs and where they make it, but the band seemed to enjoy to play for their home ftown. Maybe there was a couple of mistakes in playing here and there, but it didn’t matter. Sometimes pure energy at the stage is the most important thing.
If you have heard Swallow The Sun’s newest record, those three albums contain a little bit different material to each other. The first one with a very normal doom metal sound, the second CD is much more based on acoustic material and the third one you can file under the funeral doom genre. And like I said, that package had a good presence through the night, so after The Womb Of Winter intro we had two songs from the new one, which was expected on this tour. The situation to shoot photos was kind of poor, because of bad lights, but on other hand that wasn’t a bad thing after all – those two songs are my favourite ones at this time and it was kind of relaxing just to watch them playing the songs. Maybe a little problem with the sound, expecially in the voice section, but that’s just part of the game sometimes. When the third song called Hate, Lead The Way started I no longer had a problem. It was such a pleasure to have those three songs in a row – they left a strong feeling that it is gonna be a good gig.
We also a nice little special number during the night, when the song called Hope went through Facebook live. I don’t know how many people saw that there, but it was a nice surprise after all.
The last two weeks I have only listened to the Songs From The North album, and especially that first CD, so that night Hate, Lead The Way was maybe only one among the new songs, which was very good. I don’t mean the songs like Hope, or New Moon wasn’t good, but I’m so in love with that new one, so I only wanted the new material to come. And the main setlist ended with Lost & Catatonic and Abandoned By The Light. What a huge surprise! First I was a little bit sad, but it also is a very strong song during which made almost every person just want to watch with eyes wide open to those magical riffs and melodies and it came right after the song, Abandoned By The Light, like a ten ton hammer.
The encore was also nicely organized, because it was loaded with acoustic songs. Pray For The Winds To Come, Songs From The North and The Heart Of A Cold White Land. The title song was another true highlight to me that night. And for many other people also. Absolutely amazing female-sang chorus with nicely floated lights and atmosphere.
Descending Winters and Swallow (Horror Pt. I) ended the night. It all took a little under two hours but it was truly worth it. My doom metal yearnings are normally very seasonal, but now I can easily say I will continue listening to Songs From The North I, II & III for a long time. I recommend that to you also, if you haven’t heard it.