Although they've generally remained sonically true to their melodic death/doom foundations over the course of four-and-a-half, mostly superlative albums, Finland's Swallow the Sun have also been known to inject a few alien sounds into the mix now and then, and let's not forget 2008's major risk, the Plague of Butterflies mini-album, which was composed by commission for a ballet! So after resuming business as (mostly) usual with its follow-up, New Moon, the Fins' fifth full-length, 2012's Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, proposes to be a concept album about a the morbid subject of a father burying his only child, and the disorienting flights of madness and reality that ensue…or perhaps this just reflects the band's vague grasp of the enormity of the endeavor. Luckily, this is where frontman Mikko Kotamäki's vocal versatility comes in handy, as his equal command of clean melodies, deathly growls, strangled rasps, plus, on this occasion, baritone narrations and quiet murmurs, really help add manifold emotions to the story line as it unfolds. Especially memorable turns such as "Hate, Lead the Way", "Hearts Wide Shut," "Of Death and Corruption" and "Night Will Forgive Us" also show that Swallow the Sun's enduring passion for delivering extreme contrasts of dark and light is arguably at an all-time high.
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