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posts about swallow the sun.

tuesday night, i attended a concert by the chilenian progressive doom metal band mar de grises, the islandic viking metal band sólstafir, and the finnish death doom metal band swallow the sun, held in the matrix in bochum. i went to this for two reasons: first, to see swallow the sun another time; last time i saw them was last year before christmas in leipzig. the second reason is mar de grises. i was really glad to finally have a chance to see them.
i arrived slightly late, due to bad weather, which was no problem since the concert was opened by two local bands i didn’t really wanted to see. the first one seemed to be a doom band, and i didn’t really like the second band’s music style. they both were ok, but i would have rather not seen them and heard mar de grises playing longer ;-) both opening bands were pretty much ok though, compared to many other openers i’ve seen so far…
while the openers were playing, i checked out the merchandizing booth. there was nothing new of interest in the swallow the sun section, so i inspected the mar de grises section. they had a special edition of draining the waterheart (including a 16 minute bonus track called unconscious passenger), the new album, some t-shirts, and two albums from other chilenian bands, one of them a funeral doom band called lethargy of death, a project of one of the band members. i bought the digipack, the new album, the lethargy of death album as well as the last available unconscious passenger t-shirt. some money invested well, i hoped. (and so far, i’m right about this :-) )
after the two openers, mar de grises started playing for 45 minutes. i was in the front row, which was no problem since the location wasn’t exactly stuffed, and nobody tried to be at the very front. in fact, i was like two meters away from the stage. unfortunately, the audio quality was really bad. i don’t know whose fault this was, if it was the mixing, the location, or whatever, but it was just bad. i was happy that i knew many of the songs they played, so i knew what it was supposed to sound like, so it was more a problem for sólstafir, since i heard them the first time…
well. despite the poor sound quality, mar de grises‘ performance was great. i really like this band. following mar de grises, sólstafir entered the stage. at that point, i wasn’t feeling very well, thanks to all the fucking bastards smoking inside the location. you can’t really enjoy a concert with itching eyes and having a headache. i really miss the nonsmoker protection laws i experienced in canada and other parts of europe…
i didn’t like sólstafir‘s performance too much, but i’m not sure whether this is just related to the horrible air and the awful sound quality, or if it’s their music. some time ago i listened to a couple of songs of them, and i don’t remember being disappointed back then. so maybe i have to give them another try…
finally, swallow the sun started playing. they played songs from all over their albums, which was really nice. some of my favorites, such as the giant, were played as well!
unfortunately, it seemed that the crowd got thinner and thinner. when they went off the stage before the encore, luckily enough people were still there to make some noise. they came back pretty fast, before the people started making noise and launching an awkward silence. they played descending winters, and after that the concert was over.
well. if the sound and air quality would have been better, this concert would have been really great. but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case… (but that’s not the bands’ fault…)

the twentyfirst video is doomed to walk the earth by swallow the sun. the lyrics can be found here.

this is death doom metal. try it if you know you like this.

edit: another one which cannot be embedded. here‘s the video. here’s another version of the same video which seems to work:

[[for legal reasons, i do not want to include youtube videos here anymore. please click on this link to watch the video at youtube.]]

i like it because… it’s dark, gloomy, heavy, interleaved with dark, gloomy, mellow parts. there’s always melody, some kind of beauty. and blackness.
there are other swallow the sun songs which i would also like to put here, but which do not come with a video, like the giant and too cold for tears. if you are interested, look for them on youtube…

last year, some days before christmas, we attended a concert by swallow the sun in leipzig, germany, with support by insomnium and omnium gatherum. it was the last concert of the new moon tour. (no vampire shit, though ;-) ) you might know that swallow the sun is one of my favorite bands. they played in a small youth club, conne island, which wasn’t the easiest to find. but eventually, we found it. fortunately, nobody complained that i took my favorite toy with me; so this time, i managed to make some good photos.
i think that this concert was the best one i attended in 2009. ok, i have to admit there haven’t been many concerts in 2009 anyway. but nonetheless, this one was very good. the bands played great music and obviously had fun. (and: they played the giant, one of my favorite songs, in the encore!) unfortunately, the audience didn’t manage to sing “we want more” in finnish, so most sang a few times “zugabe” and then stopped doing anything at all, resulting in an awkward half-silence. but the band fortunately still came back.
now have fun watching some of the photos. if you want to know more about the concert, read someone else’s report ;-)

omnium gatherum.

insomnium.

during the concert of insomnium, members of the other bands showed up on the stage, and equiped insomnium‘s singer niilo with a funny hat and a sign saying “korpiklaani”. he eventually removed the hat by banging his head:

swallow the sun.

during swallow the sun‘s performance, members of the other bands had fun installing a pink dildo first at the keyboard and then, later, at the singer’s microphone:

as opposed to the korpiklaani “hat”, the dildo stayed there for the rest of the concert.

here i want to write a bit about doom music, as a huge part of the music i listen to can be counted to this category. in general, it can be characterized as slow, heavy music with dark lyrics, dealing with depression, death, despair, gloom, dying, doomed/unhappy love, and despair. it appears in various shapes, blended with many different genres, including death metal, ambient, noise, gothic music and jazz. even though non-metal doom music does exists, most of doom music is probably metal.
(note that i like all the bands i mention here quite alot, except probably the older stuff of celtic frost which, i have to admit, is mostly unknown to me.)

one of the more traditional doom metal bands is candlemass, with their 1986 album epicus doomicus metallicus being a major landmark in the doom metal genre. the album is opened by the song solitude (“please let me die in solitude”) which is, in my opinion, one of the best doom songs.

an important crossover doom genre is death/doom which is, surprise!, a crossover between death metal and doom music. usually a bit faster than other doom styles but still being way slower than usual death metal, it features death growls, sometimes mixed with clean vocals, and certain playing styles from death metal such as fast double bass kicking. two bands in this genre i like are swallow the sun—one of my most favorite bands; see here— and novembers doom. notably are also the older works of bands as anathema (see here), now playing atmospheric metal, the gathering (see here), now playing progressive/alternative/trip rock, and sentenced—another one of my most favorite bands; see here—, who later turned to more gothic doom or plain heavy metal, before disbanding 2005.

out of death/doom, another doom crossover called funeral doom developed, by slowing down the music, resulting in something which is as slow as a funeral march, hence hinting where its name comes from. besides the lack of speed, the music is even heavier, but also features more ambient like parts. two bands in this category are tyranny and unholy (see here).

related to funeral doom is drone doom, abstracting even more by reducing to a kind of minimalistic music, mainly consisting of a stream of drones, i.e. very long lasting notes, while often lacking traditional music structures like rythm or melody, with vocals often so distorted that they are barely understandable. the songs usually last very long, from something between ten and twenty minutes to sometimes filling a whole cd with one song. two important bands in this genre are sunn o))) and boris (see here).

another doom genre which is pretty detached from metal is doom jazz or noir jazz, a blend of doom music and jazz. the only example i know is bohren & der club of gore, a german band who started mixing jazz with hardcore and ambient, resulting in some kind of doom music. later, when their guitar player left, they replaced him by a saxophonist, turning the band completely into a jazz ensemble. their current style is a very dark kind of jazz, without vocals, somehow almost more ambient, somehow similar to funeral doom.

a lot of other more experimental acts exist, like early the 3rd and the mortal (see also here) stuff, which can be described as experimental/atmospheric doom, or the zürich based metal legend celtic frost, whose last album monotheist could be in parts counted as a certain kind of avantgarde/experimental doom.

another, more “standard” doom metal approach is gothic doom, a mixture of doom with gothic metal. my favorite in this area is type o negative, and in particular their most depressing album world coming down. some bands which i would also count into this category are tiamat, lake of tears and later sentenced. tiamat evolved more to gothic rock and had included also different influences besides gothic doom. sentenced began with death/doom, switching to more gothic doom and finally more to a kind of heavy/gothic metal. lake of tears, whose origin lay more in the death/doom origin, went through a change between several different genres; the albums which fit best as gothic doom are headstones, a crimson cosmos and forever autumn, all being somehow different to each other.

this will be the last best-of-list for this year. this time, i want to list the albums which influenced and intrigued me most during this year. this time, in chronological order.

  1. moonsorrow: viides luku: hävitetty.
  2. moonsorrow: verisäkeet.
  3. timo rautiainen & trio niskalaukaus: hartes land.
  4. finntroll: visor om slutet.
  5. distorted: memorial.
  6. orphaned land: mabool — the story of the three sons of seven.
  7. swallow the sun: ghosts of loss.
  8. bolt thrower: those once loyal.
  9. the 3rd and the mortal: tears laid in earth.
  10. rage: lingua mortis.
  11. kari rueslåtten: other people’s stories.
  12. primordial: to the nameless dead.

after making a best of concerts list for this year, i decided to make a best of albums list for all albums i have bought until now. i divided this up into several categories:

  • prog;
  • punk/punk rock;
  • trip hop, alt rock;
  • other non-metal;
  • metal: atmospheric;
  • metal: death/black;
  • metal: doom;
  • metal: extreme prog;
  • metal: folk/pagan/viking;
  • metal: gothic;
  • metal: power;
  • metal: prog;
  • metal: other.

note that this list reflects a snapshot of my current interest and remembrance of most of the albums. it could already be different in a few days. but feel free to comment or discuss this with me.

prog.

  1. porcupine tree: deadwing.
  2. pure reason revolution: the dark third.
  3. frost: milliontown.
  4. opeth: damnation.
  5. porcupine tree: the sky moves sideways.

punk/punk rock.

  1. die ärzte: die bestie in menschengestalt.
  2. wizo: uuaarrgh!.
  3. die toten hosen: kauf mich!.
  4. die ärzte: planet punk.
  5. die ärzte: 13.

trip hop, alt rock.

  1. kari rueslåtten: other people’s stories.
  2. radiohead: ok computer.
  3. portishead: portishead.

other non-metal.

  1. kari rueslåtten: spindelsinn.
  2. nine inch nails: the downward spiral.
  3. eläkeläiset: humppasirkus.
  4. bohren & der club of gore: black earth.

metal: atmospheric.

  1. the 3rd and the mortal: tears laid in earth.
  2. finntroll: visor om slutet.
  3. tool: 10 000 days.
  4. anathema: a natural disaster.

metal: death/black.

note that i took out the prog death/prog black (avantgarde) albums into its own category, called metal: extreme prog.

  1. bolt thrower: those once loyal.
  2. moonspell: the antidote.
  3. wintersun: wintersun.
  4. amorphis: elipse.
  5. childen of bodom: hatebreeder.

metal: doom.

i think this is the category where i could have made the longest list. there are many really good albums missing, for example down and love and death by sentenced, the other swallow the sun albums, sunn o))) and borisaltar, some candlemass albums, unholy‘s the second ring of power, and some more.

  1. sentenced: frozen
  2. swallow the sun: ghosts of loss.
  3. type o negative: world coming down.
  4. tiamat: prey.
  5. unholy: rapture.

metal: extreme prog.

this category is dominated by opeth; therefore, i decided to list the top seven instead of the top five.

  1. opeth: still life.
  2. orphaned land: mabool — the story of the three sons of seven.
  3. opeth: blackwater park.
  4. distorted: memorial.
  5. opeth: orchid.
  6. borknagar: epic.
  7. edge of sanity: crimson (part one).

metal: folk/pagan/viking.

  1. moonsorrow: viides luku: hävitetty.
  2. moonsorrow: verisäkeet.
  3. primordial: to the nameless dead.
  4. finntroll: jaktens tid.
  5. moonsorrow: voimasta ja kunniasta.

metal: gothic.

  1. lacuna coil: karma code.
  2. tristania: beyond the veil.
  3. lake of tears: a crimson cosmos.
  4. poisonblack: lust stained despair.

metal: power.

  1. nevermore: dead heart in a dead world.
  2. nevermore: dreaming neon black.
  3. symphony x: paradise lost.
  4. communic: waves of visual decay.
  5. nightwish: oceanborn.

metal: prog.

  1. dream theater: train of thought.
  2. the gathering: mandylion.
  3. ayreon: the human equation.
  4. dream theater: metropolis pt. 2 — scenes from a memory.
  5. dream theater: images and words.

metal: other.

  1. timo rautiainen & trio niskalaukaus: hartes land.
  2. rage: lingua mortis.
  3. samael: solar soul.
  4. annihilator: king of the kill.
  5. apocalyptica: cult.
posted in: albums
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i think it’s time to take a look at the list of concerts i attended this year and to list the best ones. at these two links, you can find a pretty complete list of the concerts i attended. i decided to divide the top list into two categories: prog and metal.

prog

for the third place, i cannot decide between three concerts, all which took place in pratteln in the z-7, namely, first, the spock’s beard gig on the 16.05.2007, second, the anathema & moondawn gig on the 31.05.2007, and, third, the fish gig on the 27.11.2007. all three gigs have been very good. most memorable was probably spock’s beard keyboardist, playing with both hands and feet, while his poor technician had to hold the keyboard construction together so it wouldn’t fall apart.

the second place goes to the blackfield & pure reason revolution concert, which took place on the 24.02.2007 in pratteln (z-7). i think this was the first concert where i really liked the opener, so much that i bought one of their albums. actually, i had to order it by mail, as the ones they had with them were sold out at the end of their concert (hence, i wasn’t the only one who liked it alot). the main act itself, blackfield, a collaboration between the porcupine tree frontman steven wilson and the israeli rock star aviv geffen, was also really good.

the first place goes to the porcupine tree & anathema concert, which took place on the 12.11.2007 in zürich (volkshaus). despite several people in the audience didn’t like anathema too much (“too boring”), i was pleased to see them again. for me, their music expresses simply too many emotions to be boring, eating up energy until bursting into the listener’s ear. the main act, porcupine tree, one of my favorite bands, was as good as i expected them to be. even though they played a lot from the current album, fear of a blank planet, which i don’t like as much as some of the older ones, they also played many classics. unfortunately, they didn’t played arriving somewhere but not here, which i would really loved to listen to. but, besides that, i still think this is the best prog concert i attended this year.

metal

again, as before, i cannot decide on someone for the third place, but i have two canidates in mind. the first one is the dream theater & symphony x concert, which took place on the 31.10.2007 in winterthur (eulachhallen). the second canidate is the apocalyptica & sturm und drang concert, which took place on the 09.11.2007 in zürich (volkshaus). all these bands are really good, and the shows they delivered were so, too, featuring many small details, as neat decoration. but both of these concerts also have their sides. namely, symphony x played way too short (but then, i’ll see them again next february as headliner), the location was strange (the wardrobe was outside), and dream theater could have played longer, too (i heard the rumor that the local organizer fucked this up by not registering the concert with the authorities, which in turn resulted in the police ordering the concert to be ended earlier). at the apocalyptica concert, i didn’t like the opener sturm und drang too much; they played really good and professional, but it simply wasn’t the kind of music which i really like.

the second place is filled by the amorphis, swallow the sun & insomnium concert, which took place at the 18.11.2007 in pratteln (z-7). (videos from the concert can be found here.) this concert featured three very good finnish bands, one of them, namely swallow the sun, being one of my favorite ones. their shows were good, the selection of songs was, too (i would have loved to hear some more swallow the sun songs, but then, i would probably have only been really pleased if they would have simply played all songs from their three albums, which is slightly unrealistic to expect from a co-headliner). i was headbanging a lot, met some friends, had a lot of fun.

the first place goes to the moonsorrow & swallow the sun concert, which took place at the 09.04.2007 (easter monday) in pratteln (z-7). actually, there was a third band playing as an opener, whose name i forgot. this concert was one of the most incluencal concert for me this year, not only as it introduced me to two bands, namely moonsorrow and swallow the sun, which i now count as two of my most favorite bands. besides that, the atmosphere was simply perfect, and so was the audience. i still remember headbanging with eric (a guy i met on this concert and on another one a bit later, who’s also an opeth fan), even though headbanging right next to the mosh pit can be pretty painful…

(well, a third one this weekend.) today, the finnish acts amorphis, swallow the sun and insomnium were playing in the z-7. the last weeks, i was anxiously waiting for this concert, as swallow the sun is one of my most favorite bands at the moment, as amorphis is also pretty good and i’ve been told that so is insomnium.
well. after arriving and seeing nobody i knew, insomnium started to play. they’re doing melodic death metal, and i really liked them. during their gig, i spotted a couple i’ve already met on arena‘s and threshold’s concerts. it’s always nice not to be alone on a concert :)
then, after a short break, swallow the sun‘s gig started. the one i really looked forward to. starting with the first three minutes of gloom, beauty and despair as an intro, they started with a great tour through their whole discography. the complete playlist:

  1. intro (first three minutes of gloom, beauty and despair);
  2. hope;
  3. descending winters;
  4. don’t fall asleep (horror, pt. 2);
  5. out of this gloomy light (live recording);
  6. the ship;
  7. these hours of despair (live recording);
  8. deadly nightshade;
  9. swallow (horror, pt. 1).

unfortunately, there was no encore. (i hope i’ll see swallow the sun as the headliner once…) to the sounds of the twin peaks score, the stage was rebuild for amorphis (last concert, they used twin peaks music as the intro). well. then amorphis played, the headliner for this evening, and also delivered a great show.
finally, everything was over, we walked back to the train station, arrived in zürich, and from there i had to walk home alone. well, same as yesterday, so i’m pretty much used to it :) now i’m looking forward to see how my neck’ll be feeling like, after so much headbanging… but it was definitely worth it!

i first met swallow the sun on their concert in the z-7 in april, as a co-headliner of moonsorrow. lately, i’ve again started listening to their album hope, which i bought directly after the concert, and decided to get more, namely first their second album ghosts of loss and, finally, their debut, the morning never came. their music is dark, really dark. full of beauty, of intensity, of gloom, of melancholy. so intriguing, gripping me, making me longing for more. slow moments alternating with blasting, heavy moments. clear voice alternating with death voice, giving another example where death voice fits perfectly, increasing the intenseness of the music. as the line “insane pain” in the giant—one of my favorite songs—which, if presented in clear voice, would not making me shiver that much, would not paint the pictures in my head in such intense, vivid colors. a few lines from that song:

“i’ve been hiding this giant for too long
and it’s grown like a parasite inside me
under this shadow i’ve been walking
now it’s taken over me, and she…
the pure girl, leave me before it’s too late
or i will cut your wings”

another favorite of mine, gloom, beauty and despair, another song from the great ghosts of loss album (containing several twin peaks references), is not using clear vocals after all. the first three minutes, the music being slow, melodic, melancholic, the lyrics, telling the story of someone mourning the loss of his loved one, being barely understandable, as it’s screamed and whispered at the same time, making me feel the desperation, the anger, the mourning. simply beautiful. then, piano hits in, picking up the theme from the beginning, until the guitars and the death growls take over, the music still being slow, melancholic, but heavier, more desperate, making me feeling with the narrator.
i’m really looking forward to see them again.