Finland’s Swallow the Sun brings their cold, atmospheric brand of doomy, melodic extreme metal with a hefty dose of melancholy.  When A Shadow is Forced Into the Light is a masterful foray into Northern doom.  Dark and beautiful.  Majestic yet foreboding.

This the band’s shortest record I can remember.  Eight tracks at under an hour.  But don’t think for a minute that Swallow the Sun has gone pop.  Not even a little.  While listeners may notice that there are some lighter sounds coming this new record but also those that are wide-sweeping and grandiose in terms of keyboard and string arrangements.

Lyrical content is poignant and rather heavy – not so much in the sonic – but in the context.  Much of the words are about loss and death and the unfortunate events that have affected members of the band.  While, certainly sad, the lyrics are incredibly powerful and paint a clear picture to the listener.

While all eight tracks are absolutely masterful, I was particularly taken by the first two songs.  The first, being the title track, grabs your attention and doesn’t’ let go.  The second song, “The Crimson Crown” brings a bit more of the emotion.  I first listened to this song driving on a nearly deserted road in a snow storm at night and, while somewhat dangerous, gave me the perfect visuals as I absorbed the music.

Production on this record is top notch.  The mix is expertly crafted and you’ll likely want to get this on vinyl to appreciate the full range of sounds and atmospheres that have been created.

Stunning artwork rounds out the experience with the music and plays a valuable complementary role.  The imagery is classic Swallow the Sun.  The songs are a bit different and a bit of shift.  This shift, however, is one that many are going welcome and understand – especially given the circumstances the band members have found themselves in in recent years.

When a Shadow Is Forced Into The Light is available now via Century Media Records.