Review Summary: Swansongs left resounding.
When Morbus Chron announced that their 2014 album, Sweven
would be the group’s last it left an aperture in the progressive death metal community. Sure, Robert Andersson’s Morbus Chron
may not have had the prestige acts like Gorguts, Blood Incantation or Demilich (just to name a few acts on top of the death metal pyramid), but the act itself came into the world with fresh ideas and moments of [dare I say it…] innovation by taking moments out of musical history and transforming them into something as approachable as it is diverse. Put simply, Robert Andersson’s flagship project at the time was a success at a time when death metal needed
it - not just because the genre’s often jaded fanbase wanted it. So when Mr. Andersson announced that the act would indeed eventually move forward, and with Chron’s last title as its moniker, fans rejoiced - and rightfully so. That leaves Robert Andersson’s newly minted, Sweven’s The Eternal Resonance
in a world of new hype. Where Morbus Chron bridged the gaps between a whole host of styles, Sweven takes the former progressive tropes and compounds them into a less digestible, but rewarding experience nonetheless. For those making the jump between the two acts, this becomes a singular flaw to the The Eternal Resonance
recipe. But for those who look past the convolution, there’s a world of enjoyment ready to be consumed over and over again.
A first listen to The Eternal Resonance
offers an intrinsic, if not instantly digestible listen to Andersson’s approach to progressive music. Sweven isn’t (at this point) a strictly death metal album, nor does it fall into any other styles in a complete, definitive fashion. Rather, the likes of opener, “The Spark” adds simplistic notes and brooding light atmospheres as the new look Sweven takes it sweet ***ing time getting to where it’s going. Smooth tones blend into melodious hooks and ultimately, “By Virtue Of A Promise”. And yet, the sombre, almost complacent moods continue well after the introduction. The listeners first dose of death metal however is at complete contrast with the smoother tones and are largely noticed before the lumbering riffs. It’s here where short attention listeners will first find issue with the stop start injection of cleans to grasping heaviness that interweaves itself with the album’s rather sensual diversity. Andersson’s vocals move from a deathly typical growl to emotion-filled pained shrieks while deliberately contrasting that which holds his vocal conditioning airborne. “By Virtue Of A Promise” moves steadily heavier as it progresses through its nine minute run time, but sticks to a foundation of arena rock progressiveness that falls short of creating death metal devastation. The track itself is the album’s early highlight, wandering wherever it chooses to go highlighting Andersson’s prevalence to write music, rather than heavy sounds.
At times the album allows itself to fall wantonly into a 70s vibe, unrestrained by the ‘norm’ of what defines a particular soundscape. “Reduced To An Ember” carries on very similarly to the album’s leading moments; contrasting harsh vocal phrases with lighter, progressive moments. So far, the need for blast beats and wall of sound riffing go very well unneeded. “The Sole Importance” further noodles the point home, continuing the new Sweven soundscape along the same foundations which define everything before it. It’s not until The Eternal Resonance
begins to wrap things up does the listener begin the more visceral, heavy moments that Andersson and co. made so very approachable during their time at Morbus Chron. The sweltering “Mycelia” thickens the band’s tonal diversity, offering thicker riffs and longer compositional breathing points which take on an almost doom metal vibe. Sure, the melancholy outweighs the track’s more heavier moments, but it’s clear that Sweven are building towards a greater theme and a musical climax yet to come. Despite this, parts of The Eternal Resonance
feel “safe” leaning on soundscapes described as either Opeth-ian or lite-Rush (as well as a number of un-named influences that pop and pepper the entire length of the record).
“Visceral Blight” stands as The Eternal Resonance
’s most aggressive track, but like the rest of the album is steeped in displays of progressive rock worship and occasional dabbling of psychedelia. Blast beats run between wailing harsh vocal phrases and punch through the oft noodling riffs that the album largely resorts to fill the void. “Visceral Blight” still lurches between the downright clean furor made by combining Sweven’s new found brand of metal-ism’s and melancholic progressive cleans which have some effect to distance the band’s listeners from the obvious talent here. This points out the Sweven philosophy of putting too many ideas in one basket, without the room to showcase where each and every idea needs to go. Yes, there’s a lot going on here - and not all of it makes sense in this format. The record’s closing piece, “Sanctum Sanctorum” however, still manages to wrap up Sweven’s debut piece in a interesting, all-encompassing fashion; this is largely due to the change of atmosphere. No longer are Sweven absorbed in the melancholy or the need to push two different tones into each other. Rather the sombre mood turns to hope… and stays long enough to see the record through, group chanting and all.
What The Eternal Resonance
needs (or could at least do with) is another track [at minimum] or another disc to fulfill their sonic dominance of this new venture. Most fans aren’t going to treat The Eternal Resonance
with the same reverence as a debut piece; that particular notion already been largely set in the Morbus Chron camp - it’s up to the Andersson party to build on the existing foundation and make something truly, truly worthwhile in the face of these odds. In spite of the hype, Sweven’s The Eternal Resonance
is a triumph, although not the kind most fans were expecting. Morbus Chron may have built on the expectations that Sweven will now need to carry, but at the moment (and specifically on The Eternal Resonance
), Andersson’s new album is
an album to be enjoyed slowly, maturing with every listen.