Swallow the Sun

Emerald Forest And The Blackbird

01. Emerald Forest And The Blackbird
02. This Cut Is The Deepest
03. Hate, Lead The Way
04. Cathedral Walls (feat. Anette Olzon)
05. Hearts Wide Shut
06. Silent Towers
07. Labyrinth Of London (Horror Pt. IV)
08. Of Death And Corruption
09. April 14th
10. Night Will Forgive Us

[02/14/12]
[Spinefarm Records]

In terms of innovation and experimentation the genres of doom and melodic death metal aren’t exactly pushing the envelope now-a-days. As with several other genres there seems to be a stint of stagnation going around. It’s a shame, but it’s hard to ignore. Each year album after album is released that just feels like the same thing that’s been heard before. Everything feels recycled and phoned in, and no one wants to try something new, and it really is something worth bitching about. However, sometimes you have to just accept the fact that some albums can be outrageously good, even without all that much innovation. Emerald Forest and The Blackbird, Swallow the Sun’s fifth full length album sounds exactly like any fan of their previous works would expect, but somehow that doesn’t seem like a bad thing, and it just proves that these musicians can still entertain, even if they’re not changing or reinventing anything.

The winning aspect in an album like this is the coherence of all the material. Instead of just showcasing a collection of tracks, Swallow the Sun create an eerie atmosphere on this album that builds and moves. Motion. That’s what this album is all about. Everything seems to be moving toward…something. Each track seems to lead into another, and build upon the tension that was created in the previous. It feels like there’s a goal, or a climax coming up, and this sort of songwriting keeps the listener wanting more, clinging on to what he or she is listening to, just waiting for that explosion that they know is coming. There’s an ebb and flow to all this, like a movie or any other form of storytelling. I don’t think Emerald Forest is a concept album, but with all the changing tones, and moods it easily could have been.

Swallow the Sun are in a league of bands that really know how to command compositions. That seems like a silly thing to say, but not enough bands are praised for how well their compositions are. They know when it’s okay to be heavy and blistering, and they know when it’s appropriate to switch to something more somber and light on the ears. Each section feels purposeful, and well put. This know-how is something that really commands the listener and it keeps things interesting. Truly, the textures on this album are just something to behold.  All the layers make everything feel so dynamic. Even though this is a sad or depressive album, it still evokes excitement because it’s hard to guess what exactly is coming next. The guitar leads are phenomenal and evocative, and the keyboard melodies are just as beautiful and angry as you would expect. Everything on this album feels welcome, and nothing out of place.

There’s a lot of good things to be found on this album, the gloomy atmosphere and the dynamic song-writing are really something to be praised, and like all good music it does strike a cord with the listener’s heart string, which is always appreciated. However, some parts do feel a bit cheesy. This seems to be something that you just have to deal with in a lot of cases with the gloomy sort of records, but at certain points it feels like the band were trying too hard to seem deep, and in the end it just sounds weird and unnecessary — e.g. the narration on ‘Labyrinth of London’. Other than that there’s not a lot I can complain about here. The problems are a minutia compared to all the other wonderful things on this record. In the end, Swallow the Sun have released another exceptional album in their discography, and they’re continually showing why they are so frequently praised and highly regarded in this particular niche.

Emerald Forest and The Blackbird gets…

4/5

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