Woven into sorrow

Finnish metal band Swallow the Sun to return to Israel

Band back on tour performing latest album, ‘Moonflowers,’ a grim but thoughtful musical experience

Finnish metal band Swallow the Sun will return to perform on May 21, 2022 in Israel (Courtesy Jussi Portraits)
Finnish metal band Swallow the Sun will return to perform on May 21, 2022 in Israel (Courtesy Jussi Portraits)

Finnish doom-death metal band Swallow the Sun returns to Israel May 21, performing at Tel Aviv’s Gagarin Club.

Band vocalist Mikko Kotamäki said band members were struck by the vibrancy of the Israeli heavy metal scene when they first performed in the country 12 years ago.

“We had never been in that part of the world before. It was amazing,” said Kotamäki. “We didn’t know that the metal scene was so good. I remember the first show – we were really blown away by what a great experience that was.”

Swallow the Sun returned to Israel in 2016 and 2019, and Kotamäki has also been back to vacation and visit friends.

The band, known for its melodic, melancholy sound, is currently on tour with its latest album, “Moonflowers,” a bonus, double disc that includes the band’s metal versions of the songs as well as the entire song list performed and recorded by string trio Trio N O X on the violin, viola and cello.

The classical interpretations offer a haunting instrumental sound, as the strings simulate longer guitar chords, helping listeners guess the lyrics by “nailing the emotion,” said Trio N O X violist Helena Dumell, who arranged the strings version composed by Swallow the Sun guitarist Juha Raivio, recording the entire album side in a Finnish church.

“Moonflowers” echoes the themes of the band’s last album, “When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light,” which reached number one in the Finnish charts and was written by Raivio, then mourning the death of his girlfriend, South African singer-songwriter Aleah Stanbridge, in 2016 from cancer.

“We play heavy, melancholic music, but it is beautiful at the same time, it is very melodic,” Kotamäki said. “Calling it heavy metal does not do it justice. It is much broader than that. There are parts that are heavy and parts, especially on this album with the strings, that are much softer.”

Swallow the Sun’s keyboard player recently left the band and it will perform in Israel with Raivio, Kotamäki, Matti Honkonen on bass, Juuso Raatikainen on drums and Juho Räihä on rhythm guitar.

The NIS 215 tickets for Swallow the Sun in Tel Aviv are available online.

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