Swallow the Sun are a Finnish death and doom metal band. They were formed in early 2000 with vocalist Mikko Kotamäki, guitarists Juha Raivio and Markus Jämsen, keyboardist Aleksi Munter, bassist Matti Honkonen, and drummer Pasi Pasanen. Their debut album, The Morning Never Came, was issued on Firebox in 2003. It was followed two years later by Ghosts of Loss, featuring the single "Forgive Her...," which landed in the Finnish Top Ten. In 2006 they signed to Spinefarm Records and released their third album, Hope, in 2007. It included a cover version of the Timo Rautiainen and Trio Niskalaukaus song "Alavilla Mailla" ("These Low Lands" in English) and was sung by guest vocalist Tomi Joutsen, frontman of Amorphis. The album also included a second guest appearance from Katatonia's Jonas Renkse on "The Justice of Suffering." The single "Don't Fall Asleep" was released in January of 2007 and entered the charts at number three, as did the album. The band undertook its first North American tour later that year with Katatonia, Scar Symmetry, and Insomnium; it also took them to Portugal, Spain, and Europe -- the band played over a hundred shows in all. In November they issued the live video Doomed to Walk the Earth as a document of the tour.
Swallow the Sun released the Plague of Butterflies EP in 2008. The following year Pasanen left the band and was replaced by Kai Hahto of Wintersun. In June and July of 2009 Swallow the Sun spent three weeks recording in Sweden with producer Jens Bogren, emerging with the full-length New Moon. Issued in November, the album hit number ten on the Finnish charts. The group's fifth studio album, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, was released in 2012 on Spinefarm and entered the metal and Finnish charts at number two. The set featured a guest appearance from vocalist Anette Olzon of Nightwish on "Cathedral Walls." The band toured constantly throughout 2012 and 2013, playing in Europe with Paradise Lost, eventually playing Tokyo and China as well. In June of 2014 they undertook another European tour to mark the tenth anniversary of The Morning Never Came and later played Brazil. In July of that year Hahto joined Nightwish as a full-time member. He left Swallow the Sun reluctantly; band and drummer claimed it was temporary and he would return when (and if) his Nightwish schedule allowed for it. Drummer Juuso Raatikainen, formerly of Heathen Hoof, was enlisted to replace him.
The band and its new drummer were writing prolifically but were not recording. This went on for over a year. Seeking better terms with Spinefarm, they eventually left to sign with Century Media and began recording at a furious pace. In June of 2015, Raivio announced that the wealth of material resulted in a triple-length album entitled Songs from the North I, II & III, three separate but linked recordings that showcased different aspects of Swallow the Sun's musical personality. In three successive weeks, from mid-October through early November, the band previewed one song from each volume, all the while touring the U.S. and Europe. Songs from the North I, II & III was released on November 13, 2015. ~ Thom Jurek