Aeonian Sorrow + Oceans of Slumber + Swallow the Sun @ The Underworld, London

6th May 2019
Review & Videos by Demitri Levantis

The Underworld in Camden Town hosted a night of doom and gloom tonight, performed by a veteran band all the way from Finland: Swallow the Sun.

Having played host to many a psychedelic and stoner-oriented band over the weekend as part of Desertfest, The Underworld was now ready to go deeper into the darkness with three bands armed and ready to give London’s metal community a good show of darkened melancholia.

First up on the bill was a band who fall into the funeral doom genre – famous for its combination of funeral dirges and heavily extended song lengths and wailing or growled vocals.

Their beautiful combination of male and female vocals blended together like a fine wine flowing freely into an open fire of passion and sorrow. Aeonian Sorrow lived up to their name and offered much solace to anyone in the audience who might have been suffering a depressed time.

Slow riffs, deep bass and slow but hefty timed percussion – the whole works were employed to make any doom lover smile.

I was heavily reminded of Swedish veterans Draconian through their performance, so I would rate Aeonian Sorrow highly if you love the Gothic and funeral side of doom metal. Vocalist Gogo Melone reminded the crowd that the band hail from Finland and Greece, so I would say the marriage of two different ends of Europe made these guys shine with a sound only the European doom scene can offer.

Next up on the bill were a band I felt a bit disappointed with. Firstly, I cannot say their place on the bill fitted the concept of the night and I am not sure the sound system worked in their favour.

Oceans of Slumber, a progressive metal act from Texas, arrived, having just released their third studio album and were poised, ready to give the now swelling crowd a dosage of sorrow, though not all boded well from where I was standing.

First, the vocals from singer Cammie Gilbert sounded a bit off-key, and the arrangement of blast beats and technical guitar riffs seemed a rather odd blend – not quite what I was expecting.

After a while, I could not seem to tell where the songs were going, and it sounded like the band wanted to be a bit too avant-garde for their own good – trying too hard to sound different and resulting in nothing.

The PA system didn’t work in their favour either, for I couldn’t hear the vocals enough and the drums were dominating everything else which threw my concentration off balance a lot.

Nevertheless, Oceans of Slumber seemed to be having fun but it’s not how this critic felt.

By now the crowd had swollen well to almost filling the Underworld to its full capacity – many revellers eagerly awaiting the Finnish band who have spent the last two decades playing extended wails of sorrow and despair to warm the hearts of anyone who has felt like all is lost.

Swallow the Sun certainly haven’t mellowed from what I could see and hear, for their arrival on stage was greeted with peels of applause and joyous cries as they began their journey down the long and winding road of melancholia.

Everything about this band was epic, not just their progressive song lengths but their finely mixed melodies fusing Gothic style pianos and bone-chilling bass and guitar riffs that had the crowd swaying like the ocean on a calm summer’s eve.

Vocalist Mikko Kotamaki definitely had all of us in the palm of his hand as the audience stared and swayed with the angry and heartfelt wonders he bellowed and growled as the rest of the band drove us deeper into their audible chasms of wonderment and desperation.

Swallow the Sun have that ability to keep you in a trance as their set progresses. Due to their extended song lengths and finely-paced tempos you might find yourself undergoing a feeling of warmth that takes over your whole body and you come back down to earth completely refreshed once the set is over.

I came away from this gig knowing I’d witnessed the cream of Finnish doom and I will certainly be checking the out again. An excellent night all round.