It’s been a busy 2021 for Finnish prog metal sextet Swallow The Sun. They’ve jut released a new live album, 20 Years Of Gloom, Beauty And Despair – Live in Helsinki, and only last week the band announced they would be releasing a brand new studio album, Moonflowers, through Century Media Records on November 19.
Prog grabbed Swallow The Sun singer Mikko Kotamäki for a chat about the band’s songs that mean the most to him. His personal Swallow The Sun playlist. Enjoy.
The Memory Of Light (Songs From The North, 2015)
This song is my favourite from the more progressive side of our back catalogue. I can’t even remember how many times I said ‘vittu saatana perkele’ while recording the growls in verses. Those are curse words we use in Finnish when we fuck up things. Then after edgy verses comes a great chorus with female backing vocals. This is a good one.
Empires Of Loneliness (Songs From The North, 2015)
This is one of the heaviest songs we’ve ever done yet still very groovy and beautiful. Great drumming, nice guitar leads. Massive song. Also good one to play live. Low tuning really kicks you nuts when this comes out loud from the PA even on stage. Really exhausting song to growl which adds even more agony to it.
The Crimson Crown (When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light, 2019)
Well this is a beauty. If you got scared of the previous two songs this might be easier to listen to. More clean singing. This is a song that builds up nicely. Starts very eerie but the end sounds almost majestic. Nice harmonies. I don’t think you can write a song like this if you don’t live here in the North. You can hear the nature in this song.
The Justice Of Suffering (Hope, 2007)
Hope was our first more professional album and it got a little bit more attention outside Finland. This my favourite from it. We asked Jonas from Katatonia to sing the chorus. We recorded this album in an old sea fortress called Suomenlinna in Helsinki. He flew in and I made us two gallon bowls of White Russian and I guess we had a good time. And he nailed the chorus. Miss those days when we were younger.
Plague Of Butterflies (Plague of Butterflies EP, 2008)
A 35-minute song! This was a crazy thing to do. We are really not a band who likes to make things too easy and radio length songs to please an easy listening audience who can’t focus on anything that’s longer than four minutes. Originally this was supposed to be music for a ballet performance in NYC, but that didn’t work so we said fuck it ‘let’s release an EP’!!
The Giant (Ghosts of Loss, 2005 and Live in Helsinki, 2021)
The opening track from our second album so this is more classic Swallow The Sun I would say. Really ambitious song, it’s a giant. Always great to play live too. Production wise I don’t really like the second album, but this song is also on our live album 20 Years Of Gloom Beauty and Despair – Live in Helsinki which we recorded last year before Covid cancelled everything. And 15 years later we played the song live, way better than on the album in 2005.
Hearts Wide Shut (Emerald Forest And The Blackbird, 2012)
When this album came out in 2012 I think many people didn’t really get it at first. For some people it was too soft and for Americans it was just impossible because our previous record label fucked up the North American release. So they got it seven months later. But anyway, I personally still love the album. Many good songs and this is probably the best!
Servant Of Sorrow (New Moon, 2009)
This album we recorded in Sweden at Fascination Street Studios. Oh man, that was a tough session for a young and lazy Finnish boy. Swedes really wanted a thousand takes and to start early in the morning. No wonder why Sweden has more successful bands than Finland. It’s the work ethics and superb production. This is a heavy and edgy song, and you can definitely hear I wanted to kill the guy who pushed the record button and did it several hundred times. But was it worth it? Yes it was.
Autumn Fire (Songs From The North, 2015)
This is from our triple album. The second part of it. I really love these mellow and almost acoustic songs. After 15 years of growling vocals I enjoyed doing just cleans for these. Great tune. Light up the bonfire and put this on to your headphones and watch the fire burn. You’ll get it!
Before The Summer Dies (Songs From The North, 2015)
Let’s end the list with this one. This is to me what Finland sounds like. Sounds like midsummer evening. We have all kinds of weird traditions in midsummer eve and this is the perfect soundtrack for when the sun is still shining in the middle of the night. Melancholic guitar leads, groovy drumbeats. This is Finland! This is the North!