Century Media
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Moonflowers Bloom in Misery
02. Enemy
03. Woven into Sorrow
04. Keep Your Heart Safe From Me
05. All Hallows' Grieve
06. The Void
07. The Fight of Your Life
08. This House Has No Name

Described by the band's creative mastermind Juha Raivio as "a mirror of a deep self-disappointment", "Moonflowers" is an album with sorrow and dismay at its very core. That will not come as a huge surprise to fans of SWALLOW THE SUN, as the Finnish band have long established themselves as the finest exponents of crestfallen heaviness around, with a catalogue full of songs seemingly designed to tear hearts out and stamp on them in majestic slow motion. This one is different, however. It hurts more. Created during lockdown, "Moonflowers" takes Raivio's introspective approach to new levels of agonizing vulnerability, and at times the very real nature of the songwriter's disquiet is genuinely difficult to listen to. But for all its heart-rending rawness, SWALLOW THE SUN's eighth full-length album is also one of their most beautiful.

The opening title track is wonderfully elegant and melodic, and while there is nothing wistful or otherworldly about its atmosphere, the sheer stately power of the Finns' performance creates a stirring momentum of its own. Recent single "Enemy" is a morbid gem, with a lethally effective chorus that you might want to avoid if you're having a bad day, but with great ensemble lightness of touch on display, particularly during its none-more-goth midsection. Frontman Mikko Kotamaki has never sounded more lost in the moment, and he remains a superbly skilled mouthpiece for Raivio's innermost thoughts. His effortless transitions from ghostly melody to barbarous roar are more effective than ever on sprawling epics like "Woven into Sorrow" and the rugged shapeshifting of "Keep Your Heart Safe from Me". He has also discovered the perfect foil: on the dynamic shadow play of "All Hallows' Grieve", OCEANS OF SLUMBER's Cammie Gilbert creates her own serene space amid the bereft melee, to deliver a truly mesmerizing cameo, as if she had always been there.

The final three songs are among the finest SWALLOW THE SUN have committed to tape, and yet the gently oppressive weight of Juha Raivio's gloom persists. The result is simultaneously devastating and irresistible. "The Void" is a magnificently glacial thing, with dreamy, goth rock ambience and several visceral, overdriven crescendos; "The Fight of Your Life" is the band at their most fervently progressive, as acoustic reverie gives way to murderous doom metal colossus and back again; "This House Has No Name" erupts with seething black metal intensity, delivering a final kick to the kidneys before all hope is abandoned and the post-mortem on this mortal realm begins. Again, this is fantastic, evocative and richly conceived music, but its broken and battered heart tells a story that not everyone will want to spend too much time with. But if you've stuck with SWALLOW THE SUN up until this point, you may consider yourselves forewarned and possibly even forearmed. Just don't be surprised if "Moonflowers" actually fucking breaks you.

Author: Dom Lawson
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • reddit
  • email

Comments Disclaimer And Information

BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).