(Dark Descend Records, 2014)
Finnish two-man band Swallowed have received a lot of praise due to this their first full-length, and not in vain. If this album would be categorized as “Spiritual Black Metal” or similar it would fit nicely into the trendy current of the underground today (started by bands like Deathspell Omega and albums like “Ordo Ad Chao”), but as the band (or Metal Archives) themselves seem to categorize their music as Doom and Death Metal, it does give a more personal touch to the music, which is pretty original in itself anyway.
The album starts with a very abstract and experimental chaotic intro-like song (apparently still performed with the traditional instruments of guitar, bass and drums), before settling into a slower Doomier style of Blackened Death Metal, still chaotic and intense as hell, while a sinister Blackened voice speaks and preaches in the background.
Throughout the album, the guitars, vocals and drums have a similar logic of moving and animating extremely slowly before exploding into furious bursts of chaotic aggression. Maybe 80% of the music is slow jamming with frequent bursts of insanity, only rarely going to blast-beat paces. I would often personally compare the logics of the music to bands like Sadistik Exekution and Teitanblood going Doomier and more Avantgardish.
The guitar sound is low and drony yet clear and ripping, and the drums sound like recorded at the rehearsal place with good enough mics. In fact the whole thing would sound like recorded at one take, if it weren’t for the overlapping guitars and vocals.
The riffs are extremely simple in nature, with basically only the leads bringing melody to the music. Also some psychedelic guitar-effects (reminding sometimes of for example trademark Electric Wizard -sounds) and minimalistic synths can be heard from time to time, fitting the rest of the musical atmosphere splendidly. The drums are played with great skill, sounding as organic and human as humanly possible, with awesome bursts of double basses, snares, and crashes bringing the whole bizarre spectacle to life. This music would sound very different if it weren’t for the amazing performance of the drums, which are responsible for at least 40% of the music. The vocals have an amazing amount of variation while being basically the same voice all the time. Extremely dramatic, theatrical and well performed using almost only the Blackened speech-style.
Song-lengths vary from about 4 minutes to 25 minutes, although the whole album has a very similar atmosphere all the way, keeping you in it’s grip from start to finish. The amount of riffs and music on this masterpiece is staggering. The cover-artwork (perhaps made by the guitarist and vocalist of the band who has done great work in the field of graphic design in his life outside this band) fits the music perfectly, like a nightmare or a scene from some personal hell.
A highly recommended album for all into intense and psychedelic sinister music!
9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki