Swallow The Sun

Markthalle, Hamburg - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Swallow The Sun, a Finnish doom band which I feel we have been raving quite a bit about here at Metalmoments since we first saw them this spring, was the third band to play on the Into Darkness tour, following Scar Of The Sun and Lake Of Tears, and in turn being followed by Moonspell and Pain. For us, this was where the evening really would begin…

To set the tone, as if the earlier bands hadn’t already done this, Swallow The Sun had dug some sort of Finnish folk melody which they used as an intro, very melancholy stuff which brought the atmosphere well down into the coal chamber, but at the same time gave my expectations wings to fly high. Now the only question was, was the band ready to deliver?
Judging from the form the musicians had when entering the stage and beginning to play Emerald Forest And The Blackbird, opening and title track of their latest album, I’d say they were! By the looks of it, we got pretty much what I had come to expect from this band after the three times we’ve already seen them this year; a moody Mr. Aleksi Munter on the keyboards, a very audience oriented Matti Honkonen on bass, and our two simply rocking guitarists Juha Raivio and Markus Jämsen. Giving Honkonen a run for his money in being audience friendly this day was drummer Kai Hahto, who apparently have no problem dividing his time between this bleak bunch, and the probably somewhat more spoken about release of Time I by Wintersun, a band in which he also swings the sticks (drum sticks that is, in case you were wondering), although in a somewhat different beat.
But back at the Swallow The Sun show, we were still missing our vocalist, Mikko Kotamäki, who, true to his style, didn’t appear on stage until the very second where his vocals were to begin. I’ve wondered if this is some sort of rock star attitude or the like, but honestly, I just think it’s the way he operates. Still, as usual I would like to ask for a bit more in his performance, which also as usual, laws low-key to say the least. Apart from not taking an active part in the performance, I also noticed that a lot of the vocals were pre-recorded for this show; can’t say I could figure out why, and no explanation was given, but obviously it would have been better if they were sung for real.

The mid-sized Hamburg crowd was gently swaying along to the music though, and seemed to appreciate the high quality doom they were being served. I say mid-sized because the audience had taken a noticeable cut in numbers since Lake Of Tears, who had played a moment ago. Their loss if you ask me, as Swallow The Sun was in all aspects delivering something that was far better, but sadly there is no accounting for taste, that much was made clear here.
Those who had stuck around were treated to a faster paced set than what I had imagined from these guys; as I’m only a beginner in their musical school I can’t give you many titles I’m afraid, but it felt vastly different from the earlier shows I have seen from the band this year, and that was definitely a plus. Not in the way that I hadn’t liked it before, but being able to renew one-self is important in this line of business.
The crowd was slowly but steadily pulled further and further into the dark world that the band presented, and after a song or two they were ready and willing to throw their saluting hands in the air after a simple request from Honkonen. Munter also lightened up and smiled rather quickly this evening, and surprising as it was, it also helped set the good atmosphere in the hall, and when the concert was over (some five minutes before time, for shame!), Hahto came down and threw some of his drumsticks out into the crowd, quite possibly creating some new fans along the way.

Although the mood was good and the setlist was interesting (in a good way, don’t get me wrong), this was still not the top of the Swallow The Sun gigs I’ve been to. It was very emotional and moving though, and they managed to help me come in the appropriate mood for the rest of the evening, just as I had hoped they would.

Setlist (incomplete):

Emerald Forest And The Blackbird
Out Of This Gloomy Light

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