Swallow the Sun (De Casino, Sint Niklaas) – 07/05/2019

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Even in springtime, any excuse is good for a doomy night out. The venue in Sint Niklaas saw some familiar faces tonight, topped off with one Finland’s greatest for what would become an excellent evening of sorrow and gloom

Aonian Sorrow(****)

Aonian Sorrow had already played De Casino last summer when they opened up for The Wounded. Gogo Melone was as ever a captivating frontwoman who helmed the vocals skillfully with her grunting companion Ville Rutanen. Their gothically flavoured funereal doom went down very well with the public. It is always hard for the opening band to get the crowd going, so it was really nice to see pleased faces all around, especially from the band itself.

Marche Funebre (****)

Marche Funebre has actually been part of BE Metal line-ups a few times as well. So the first 2 shows really felt like a reunion with some old friends. As one of a few active doom bands in Belgium, the troupe from Mechelen needed little introduction.

They started of their set with a few of their slower songs, until they kicked up the gears with the fiery ‘Death Wish Woman’ of their latest EP. The crown of their performance, however was taken with the epic fifteen minute long ‘Lullaby in Darkness’.

Oceans of Slumber(****)

Tonight’s curveball was thrown by the third act, Oceans of Slumber. This Texas based band are more of an atmospheric prog rock band rather than doom pur sang. Vocalist Cammie Gilbert is a remarkable frontwoman. She may look like a ballsy gothic rock chick version of Rihanna, her voice reminded me more often than once of the delicate singing of the Gathering’s current leading lady, Silje Wergeland.

While not doom per se, the lumbering, mood-heavy riffing sat together very nicely with the other acts. I was kind of hoping that would have pulled out their version of ‘Nights in White Satin’, but that might have indeed been a bridge too far.

Swallow the Sun (*****)

The considerable turnout on this Tuesday, however, was courtesy of the main act: Swallow the Sun. It had been quite a few years since we got the chance to witness these Finnish masters of misery. This was mainly due to the tragic passing of guitarist Juha Raivio’s  partner Aleah. Both the massively depressive triptych ‘The Northen Lights’ and the slightly more uplifting latest ‘When a Shadow is Forced from the Light’ were to a great extent a cathartic endeavor to come to terms with this loss.

This evening’s material drew heavily from that latest record, including its unmistakable highlight ‘Firelights’.  Especially that song shows just how much the band had grown and refined their songs since their initial Peaceville inspired days.

Another moment of magic appeared when Gogo Melone stepped on stage for the wonderful ‘Cathedral Walls’, a duet originally recorded with Nightwish’s one time vocalist Annette Ollson, a collaboration that fit her much more than anything she ever did with Tuomas and co. Gogo’s own rendition did the song more than justice.

Towards the end of the show they delved a bit deeper into their past. The last encore was reserved for a golden oldie gem from their debut, ‘Swallow’.

 That last song then brought ending to a perfectly doomed evening.

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