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Through Soil and Skin
Artist: Sawol
Label: Bullroser Records
Time: 9 tracks  51.8 minutes

Now this is a tremendous release on every level! Labeled as a death metal release, I think of this more along the lines as a technical metal release complete with guttural vocals. The production on this release is top notch. This is  the second release from Sawol, a four piece band from Finland. This record is crisp, clear and each track stands alone and apart from the previous song, yet this album is overall very cohesive and gels together remarkably well.

From the opening track "Furor," the guitars are crystal clear and the chord progressions are so varied and unique that each song sounds finely crafted and complete. With two guitarists attacking the songs, the listener comes out with a great sound that hearkens back to the older era of death metal. Plenty of beefy riffs ring out over the top of rhythmic and complex guitar work, driven along by solid bass lines and held together by heavy drumming and the consistent crash of the cymbals. 

Standout tracks for me are "Closer to the Sun" because of the uniquely crafted guitar work that changes pace and the song structure that changes timing over and over. "Closer to the Sun" also has regular vocals as well as the death metal vocal which lends itself well to the creativity of the song. The track "Seasons" is also a favorite that starts out with chiming guitar work that breaks down into a swirl of rhythm and riff. The track "Prisoner" is stand out as well due to the driving guitar work and how atmospherically heavy the sound is. If metal is your thing, this is a must own release!

Reviewed by Steve Ruff    12-19-2010

What is it about labels and genres? If you’re _________ metal/music, you’ll need to do things like this: _____________. I suppose Sawol falls into the doom metal category in terms of BPM and instrumentation although nowhere near approaching sludge or stoner at any point. The delivery is crisp, the playing is compact and efficient and the recording is spot on. The vocals are of the cookie monster variety through 90% of the disc, the exception being a nice break at the beginning of “Closer To The Sun”. This is a welcome break from the monotony.
Overall, this could be a prog metal band if they stretched just slightly. The songs have really solid melodic breaks, and when the guitars break from their heaviness and seek refuge in clean tones, it reminds me of many top notch prog type bands. The playing is economical and proficient.

So, if heavy is your deal, and you don’t mind some predictable growling, give this nugget a spin. I will keep beating the drum for bands of a certain genre to stretch and break from the formula. Sawol is perched on that precipice, but doesn’t dive off quite yet.

Dean Arnold


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