Swallow The Sun – Lumina Aurea

As their legion of fans will attest to, Swallow The Sun is not your average Death-Doom band. The inventiveness and melancholy melodies lift the Finnish outfit to another plain and, after 2015’s lauded triple album Songs From the North, any release from the sextet is anticipated with a relish akin to hero-worship. Single Lumina Aurea, all fourteen minutes of it, is a precursor to next year’s album When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light (all Century Media) and, although not a track from that album, is an eerie, monumental aperitif – a gateway to the full product.

It begins with modified horns wailing over a stormy setting, single drumbeats introducing a choral lament and a spoken elegy by Wardruna’s Einar Selvik. As the funereal riff crashes in, so does Mikko Kotamӓki’s tortured scream, lasting until the whole process starts again.

It’s a hugely stirring piece: the power, volume and portent increasing with each change in movement while the pace never wavers, the maudlin passion blending with the hoar-frost of the Blackened husk undercutting it.

The introduction of lead guitar, again initially a background sentiment, is the delicious twist toward the denouement: a heart-tugging march into oblivion with the souls of the damned, a sea crashing over the voices in Purgatory. As a standalone piece of music Lumina Aurea is staggering, an achievement on a par with Bismuth’s The Slow Dying Of The Great Barrier Reef (Medusa Crush Recordings). The release is reinforced by an additional instrumental version that backs it, and alerts the darkened hordes to what promises to be another groundbreaking Swallow The Sun album.

9 / 10

PAUL QUINN