Finnish doom death monsters Swallowed unleash haunting debut album with ‘Lunarterial’

SwallowedYou know when you’re hearing something a little extra special that separates itself from the pack of other music inundating your senses. Especially as a writer, who hears the bulk of new metal releases each year, it’s not every day something really grabs and forces you to pay attention to every moment of what’s going on. Trust me, it’s easy to nod off, as much as I don’t want to do that.

Luckily, bands such as Swallowed come along now and again and inject that passion for discovering new music back into my bones. The Finnish death/doom act are such a refreshing breath of air, albeit one full of rot and fire, and the way this group goes about what it does feels so loose and alive, it’s really easy to get caught up in their fury. Their debut full-length “Lunarterial” doesn’t like a band that fucked around with a bunch of computers, click tracked the shit out of things, or did whatever they could to come up with some glistening, polished product. This sounds raw, edgy, and dangerous, and it should be remembered as one of the most exciting debut records by any metal band this year.

Swallowed coverSwallowed is a two-headed beast, with Samu Salovaara handling guitars and vocals and Ville Kajonen on drums and vocals. This six-track, 53-minute slab of charnel madness definitely will do its damage, but it also provides a fascinating adventure into an opus built on pure violence, infernal creativity, and an animalistic inhibition that powers this thing from front to back. It’s an exciting listen, one that feels organic and nasty, and a record that excites folks like me who are sticklers for death and doom that sounds threatening and is worried more about the power and aggression and not that it’s easily consumed by the masses. The fact this album is out on Dark Descent (in conjunction with Me Saco Un Ojo, who are handling the vinyl) is no shock. They’re been so far ahead of the pack in finding true underground death and doom behemoths, that it isn’t even funny.

“Opening of the Key” sounds like a proper introduction to this record, as the brief cut is built on crazed noise, buzzing drone, swirling voices, and crashing cymbals, and that mashes into “Reverence Through…” The track is slow driving and menacing, with throaty growls, deranged melodies, and the song eventually blowing open into full-speed gashing. The vocals sound spat out, while the music is utterly pulverizing and catastrophic, with tortured wails and a thick psychedelic fog underneath it all. In fact, that element comes back quite often on “Lunarterial.” “Arterial Mists of Doom” is utterly clobbering, with the band hitting on quick bursts of speed that always end up giving way to more lurching. The vocals sound like Gollum choking on his words, with the music sitting back and thrashing heavily. There are several more tempo explosions as the track winds through its murk, and the vocals often flip back and forth from monotone wail to strange growls.

“Black Aura” would be the monster of most records at 9:52, but it’s a mere baby compared to what caps off the album. More on that later. The opening is trippy and loopy, with the doom spread thick over the piece and the melodies causing the room to spin and you to grasp for the walls. The vocals are belchy and vicious, with the guitars creating a violent haze that rises up like a poisonous fog. The playing creates a vortex that gets more insane as the song starts winding down, and the sounds keep spinning and killing right up to its finish. “Black Phlegm” is a warped, bizarre piece, with water dripping like we’re situated in a dank basement, then the riff rising in pure Black Sabbath worship. The music gets spacey and bendy, warbled whispers create a dizzying effect, and the whole thing feels damn claustrophobic. Oh, so I mentioned the ending of the record would be something mammoth in scope? That would be the 25:13 “Libations,” a track that’s utterly unforgiving and builds and twists through its huge running time. Naturally, you get a heaping serving of everything Swallowed do so well, packing ominous growls and whispers, eerie tones, vicious firing, and slowly meted out punishment into the stew. There is some fiery lead guitar playing that keeps the smoke building, psychedelic bubbling is present to alter your mind and blast your brain open, and the vocals have moments where they are completely unhinged. With just five minutes left, the song gets turned on its face, pouring strange cosmic dust into the sound, piercing guitar work, and smothering doom that keeps pressing until the song finally runs its barbaric course.

Swallowed will sicken, push, and agitate you, but at the same time, they should thrill those out there who relish death and doom bands with a firm grasp on the roots. “Lunarterial” is one hell of an exciting, devastating record, and the fact that it’s just this band’s debut is pretty frightening stuff. They will seize you like a demonic monster in the night and hold you captive while they torture you psychologically. You have no choice but to submit to their power, and once you do, you’ll find yourself completely transformed. Or at least you’ll start demanding more out of your death and doom bands.

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