Swallow The Sun
Plague Of Butterflies
posted on 11/2008 By:
In a turn of events almost identical to the circumstances that led to the release of Arsis’ A Diamond For Disease EP, Finnish melodoom stalwarts Swallow The Sun have released their own take on a heavy metal soundtrack to ballet. Um…..yeah. Ballet is fuckin’ brutal, you know?
The centerpiece of this “EP” (which clocks in at over an hour in length) is the monstrous “Losing the Sunsets / Plague of Butterflies / Evael 10:00” composition, which was originally meant to serve as the soundtrack for the aforementioned metal/ballet project until that project was cancelled. At a whopping 34:42 in length, this track is going to test the patience of even the most ardent Swallow The Sun fans, and while it's certainly enjoyable as something to lose yourself in for half an hour, I’m still not sure that it's quite impressive enough to warrant repeated play-throughs of its excessive length.
As the title suggests, the song is composed of three primary movements, each separated by sparse atmospheric interludes that make the whole thing sound more like three completely different songs stacked together rather than one epic composition. Swallow The Sun exercise all the usual elements of their patented melodic death/doom sound here as expected; the somber melodies, acoustic elements, and clean/growled vocal dynamics are just as enjoyable here as they've always been, and the band is effective at keeping the pace interesting throughout the track’s long duration through their crafty balance of heavy downtrodden riffage and morose folky ambience. At the same time, things can feel fragmented from time to time, and unless you’re paying absolute attention to the song’s progression the whole way through, it becomes easy to completely lose your place in all the quiet intermissions and layers of depressive riffs. And once you hear that fourth or fifth ultra-morose lead passage, it can get a little exhausting. I will say that the final crescendo of the song’s last couple of minutes is truly powerful, and the epic keyboards and beautiful lead guitar segment will ensure that even if you’ve kind of shifted in and out of focus up until that point, you’ll definitely be paying attention when it all ends.
The band has also tacked on the four-track Out Of This Gloomy Light demo to the main attraction. All of these songs except for “Swallow” (which is a great track) were re-recorded for the debut The Morning Never Came, but it will still be nice for fans to hear these songs in a slightly less polished context.
So should you, the Swallow The Sun appreciator, buy A Plague of Butterflies? Well, the jury’s still out on that one. You’ll no doubt have quite an experience listening to the centerpiece track for the first time, but I’m not so sure that it will be entering a regular spot in your rotation. The material here does manage to live up to this band’s high standards, but I would still place it as a step down from their terrific full-length efforts. This is mainly due to the fact that the brilliant narrative touches these guys put into their individual songs (the quiet intros, the fiery climaxes) lose some of their impact when they’re all fitted together into one single composition and repeated. Then again, when considering that this composition was originally intended to be a soundtrack or sorts, it’s interesting to imagine how the music would have accompanied the visual aspect of the performance. One thing’s for sure; Swallow The Sun put a hell of a lot of effort into this piece, and that fact alone makes it well worth your interest, although you’ll have to decide if it's ultimately worth your money.
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