Please welcome your new friend, unbridled madness. Swallowed’s cover for Lunarterial is nothing short of madness inducing with its asymmetrical depiction of a looming four eyed demon and a figure reeling in terror. I have always been a fan of album covers that seem to illustrate the music. If one was expecting Swallowed to be endless landscapes of challenging horror, which is as confrontational as it is unsettling, then that person would be absolutely correct.
Swallowed has an interesting history, as a large portion of their band members are from the speed metal band Ranger. While this may seem like a huge jump, Ranger’s frantic structure seems to have carried over into the texture of Swallowed. The only thing that seems to be different is the density of helpless despair. While Ranger has a noticeable falsetto, Swallowed sports a raw croak that hangs over the music like exposed tendons. Samu Salovaara’s vocals are the lighthouse that guides the listener through craggy passages and swirling pools of madness.
Lunarterial is a challenging record, but its atmosphere is nothing short of intriguing. The entire record spirals into a 25 minute closing track “Libations,” which even without accompanying lyrics translates a feeling of supreme desolation and unraveling. Lunarterial may not be a record to play at a friendly social gathering but it is sure one that pushes past the expectation of contemporary metal. Every so often there needs to be a record that toes past the boundaries heavy music travels. Swallowed is not the first to do so but Lunarterial sure makes it apparent where it is traveling.