Swallow the Sun

Ghosts of Loss

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After putting on an absolute doom metal clinic with their imposing monolith of a debut, The Morning Never Came, Swallow the Sun required an incredibly short amount of time to deliver their second musical monument in the shape of 2005's Ghosts of Loss. Even more astonishing was realizing that the Fins, unlike virtually all bands granted a taste of potential stardom, decided to make this sophomore effort more extreme and inaccessible to non-metallic ears than their first. In fact, even pre-converted disciples and experienced doom/death enthusiasts probably found themselves smacked flat against these tracks' unyielding structural granite during initial listens; only to discover, given just a little patience, that this was merely a consequence of sheer girth, not the absence of imaginative songwriting ideas. Indeed, massive musical slabs like "Ghost of Laura Palmer," "Forgive Her," and "Gloom, Beauty and Despair" tipped the scales well and above eight minutes each, and the disc's aptly named opening colossus, "The Giant," ran (or crawled, as it were) along for almost twelve! And yet all of these, without exception, ultimately proved to be worth their weight in gold, thanks to multi-faceted arrangements streaked through and through with exquisite contrasts of tectonic rhythmic riffing and supple and/or densely orchestrated synths and guitars. Vocalist Mikko Kotamäki once again matched this flexible duality with his equally proficient alternating of clean singing, crusty blackened croaks, and cavernous death roars; and the entire band came through in devastating form on slightly shorter neo-doom classics such as "Descending Winters," "Psychopath's Lair," and "Fragile." Really, only the somewhat dull closing number, "The Ship," seemed to overstay its welcome, leaving little doubt that Ghosts of Loss was yet another stupendous doom album in Swallow the Sun's precociously legendary career.

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