Review Summary: Breaking: Robert Andersson caught playing in tribute band to himself.
No matter your thoughts on Morbus Chron’s last hurrah, Sweven
, its peculiarity was undeniable – an effortless blend of old school death metal, progressive tropes and psychedelia, potent and charming enough to meander about our head-spaces for entire afternoons. It upended what it was to be a death metal album, casting aside the concept of brevity yet never once feeling overlong. It dared to face an audience that has come to expect guns blazing until failure, then filled an hour with death-laced rumination and somehow made it satisfying. Simply put, there was nothing and nobody quite like Sweven
and Morbus Chron; that was until, uh, Sweven rose from the ashes of the latter and bestowed upon us 2020’s The Eternal Resonance
The man behind both the current and former projects, Robert Andersson, appears to be resting on his laurels in that the core aesthetics of Sweven the band, and Sweven
the album, are practically identical but for a discrepancy in pacing. Something that can never be said of its 2014 spiritual predecessor is that, well, The Eternal Resonance
has been done before. Sure, nothing is wholly original, but it’s hard to become enamoured with Andersson’s latest work when it's not just a retread of something that could never be described as such, but an inferior one at that. This isn’t to say the album is poorly performed or produced; the overall sound is dynamic and suitably dreamlike – clean and reverberant, draped in unprocessed tones and natural ambience alike. While by no means virtuosic, Jesper Nyrelius’ drumming is wonderfully accented, content to play the role of the nexus without the need for histrionics. The album’s first song proper, “By Virtue of a Promise”, even presents us with a beautifully expressive, melodic guitar solo after the halfway mark, recalling the deft musicianship that made Sweven
such a gem.
Tortured as ever are Andersson’s vocals, akin to a depressive Martin van Drunen performance, intent on terrifying not, but on imparting a sense of melancholia. However, intention and reality can often be worlds apart, as is tragically the case here. Perhaps all the talk of Sweven’s
novelty compelled the mind behind The Eternal Resonance
to get carried away with everything that set the former apart from its peers. Everything is dreamier, more nebulous and spaced-out than before, but altogether less effectual. Though Sweven
revelled in its own obscurity, at least its songs went somewhere
. Here, tracks feel neither like self-contained bodies of work nor as parts of something greater, instead as structure-free approximations of songwriting. The more ethereal instrumentation simply doesn’t gel with the agonised wailing, given there are relatively few metallic parts to lend a contrast. While the clumsy black metal-esque barrages in “Visceral Blight” are an exception, for the most part, The Eternal Resonance
comes off as an aimless prog album with token metal chestnuts.
Attempts at rekindling what made something prior “special” rarely come to fruition, and Robert Andersson’s debut album under the Sweven moniker is a painful reminder of that. At best, The Eternal Resonance
can find its place as an introductory album to its creator’s better work, or a fix for those pining for more of the same but willing to settle for less. Hell, it doesn’t make for bad background music, perhaps as a study soundtrack for those who aren’t averse to false chord bawling, but I doubt it. At worst, it simply pales in comparison to its ancestor and, as if to add insult to injury, may foster the idea that 2014’s Sweven
was a fluke.