Artist: Swallow The Sun

Title: Lumina Aurea EP

Label: Century Media Records

Date of Release: 21 December 2018

Ok, it’s soapbox time again. I don’t take any pleasure in this, but I feel that something has to be said.

This new EP for Swallow The Sun is only going to be made available, initially at least, on vinyl. I fully appreciate the revival of vinyl and had I not been born right in the middle of the vinyl near-extinction, it is highly likely that my collection would be predominantly in record form. Fortunately or unfortunately, I got into music as CDs became all the rage. I therefore have a CD collection that numbers in the thousands. And I don’t own a record player. Yet.

My choice therefore, is to either go without or buy something I can’t play. I also fully appreciate that labels can release music on whatever format they wish. However, when the press material actually confirms that this EP links to the forthcoming album, an album that’ll be available on CD, it seems unfathomable to me that you can’t listen to both releases in the same format.

But with my personal gripe out of the way, let’s get on to what you all clicked the link for: a critique of the content of this release. ‘Lumina Aurea’ is its title and it precedes the full album, ‘When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light’ by around a month. It is comprised of either one or two tracks depending on your point of view, because the second track is an instrumental version of the first. Identical except for a lack of vocals.

However, long term STS fans will know that the Finnish purveyors of ‘gloom, beauty and despair’ are masters of the epic, of conjuring up images in the mind of the listener and enveloping them in layer upon layer of rich atmosphere. And the same is very true of ‘Lumina Aurea’.

The first thing to comment upon with this near 14-minute composition is its sheer suffocating darkness. It is like listening to a lament conjured up from the pits of ultimate darkness and despair from which there is no escape and indeed, no hope of being set free. It may also seem an odd thing to say but those of you familiar with STS’s usual output will perhaps not immediately recognize this as a STS composition. There are precious few forays into extreme metal territory where crushing instrumentation joins forces with the subterranean growls and screams of Mikko Kotamaki.

download (1)

Instead, ‘Lumina Aurea’ is a slow-burning epic that uses the occasional heavy guitar tone as an embellishment only, a thunderous and ominous portent of doom that comes out of nowhere to send an icy shiver down your back. As you may have guessed, the band prefer here to unsettle the listener with more subtle forms of heaviness and oppression. The drums, when they appear, are only used to keep a ponderous and metronomic beat, almost glacial in pace.

The demonic raspy vocals are nasty, but they again supplement the generally minimalist soundscape, one that features the talents of guest musicians Einar Selvik (Wardruna) and Marco I (The Foreshadowing). Then there are the spoken-word lyrics sung primarily in what I suspect is Latin as well as the incredibly emotive Gregorian chanting, which in the context of this piece is truly sinister-sounding.

Having also heard the full-length album, I can confirm that ‘Lumina Aurea’ sounds markedly different from that material. However, there is something about this composition that draws me in. Like a gruesome horror or a chilling thriller, this song has that evil aspect that is seductive and compelling. It may be a minimalist and dystopian track, the soundtrack to your nightmares, but it is wonderful exactly because of that.

On balance, I do prefer the material within the full-length album because it is more in keeping with Swallow The Sun’s core sound, featuring more in the way of melody and I’ll bring a review of that in due course. But this EP, regardless of it consisting of just one track repeated twice, is a fascinating listen and one that many of you will enjoy, of that I have no doubt.

The Score of Much Metal: 7

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Hollow – Between Eternities of Darkness
Sigh – Heir To Despair
Threads of Fate – A Funeral For The Virtuous
Nachtmystium – Resilient EP
Divine Ascension – The Uncovering
Godless – Swarm
Universe Effects – Desolation
Kalidia – The Frozen Throne
Rikard Sjoblom’s Gungfly – Friendship
Ashes of Ares – Well of Souls
Veonity – Legend of the Starborn
Bloodbath – The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn
Nochnoy Dozor – Nochnoy Dozor EP
Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd
Lost In Thought – Renascence
Into Eternity – The Sirens
Fifth Angel – The Third Secret
Ashes of my Memory – Raptures /// Disillusions EP
Anathema – Internal Landscapes
Samskaras – Lithification
Seventh Dimension – The Corrupted Lullaby
Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands
Witherfall – A Prelude To Sorrow
Northward – Northward
Seventh Wonder – Tiara
Warrel Dane – Shadow Work
Haken – Vector
Beyond Creation – Algorythm
Ultha – The Inextricable Wandering
Amaranthe – Helix
Ghost Ship Octavius – Delirium
Decembre Noir – Autumn Kings
The Odious Construct – Shrine of the Obscene
Fauna Timbre – Altering Echoes
The Moor – Jupiter’s Immigrants
Revocation – The Outer Ones
Riverside – Wasteland
Ethernity – The Human Race Extinction
Dynazty – Firesign
Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
Brainstorm – Midnight Ghost
Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned
Kingcrow – The Persistence
Cast The Stone – Empyrean Atrophy
Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold
Helion Prime – Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster
Madder Mortem – Marrow
A Dying Planet – Facing The Incurable
Árstíðir – Nivalis
Mob Rules – Beast Reborn
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Aethereus – Absentia
Unanimated – Annihilation
Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse