Review Summary: Bone-crushing, Baltic assault.
Three years after their successful debut album, Vaitojimas
, blackened hardcore sludgers Erdve return with the much-anticipated sophomore release Savigaila
, which translates as "self-pity" — the main theme through which the entire narrative orbits. Love, envy, regret, self-regard, helplessness, and dogma, shape the foundations of a concept that revolves around overcoming the great challenges of reality by accepting them as they truly are. Thus, the mutation of this core idea into music is Savigaila's
ultimate goal and main artistic purpose. Erdve's hybrid, experimental style that blends sludge, hardcore, death, and black metal, theoretically presents itself as the perfect vehicle to bring this bold, emotionally driven concept to life.
main aesthetic update over its predecessor is its dirtier, more experimental approach that ultimately generates a more chaotic, aggressive outcome. While keeping Vaitojimas'
hybrid DNA intact, the band's sound now features a more pronounced hardcore layer, as if the lads purposely messed up the room in order to produce a more irreverent atmosphere. This grimier look and feel somehow enhances the inner conflict present in the album's concept while adding more heaviness and density to it. The brutal segments in 'Lavondėmės', 'Betonas' or 'Savigaila' are among the most striking examples of this more violent, visceral side. The first half of the former is even one of the most overwhelming moments of 2021 and easily one of Savigaila's
highlights. It is in this harsh, hostile ground that the band expresses itself most effectively. The massive slow-paced sequence in 'Sugretinimas' or the ferocious grind section in 'Takoskyra' are other outbursts that cause significant damage. Interestingly enough, Erdve's heavy delivery doesn't necessarily equate to speed, since much of the album's heaviest sections orbit slow, mid-paced tempos, which adds further density to the band's signature. The powerful rhythm section and Vaidotas Darulis' intense hardcore-ish vocals play a key role in this overwhelming vortex, operating in total symbiosis towards a common goal.
While the album's heavier side works remarkably well, its softer, atmospheric counterpart, designed to create balance and contrast, doesn't quite reach the same creative level. With the exception of 'Pleura', which sounds like an ominous air raid, both 'Votis' and quasi-instrumental 'Pragulos' are somewhat innocuous, as is the brief piano track 'Skilimas', whose contribution boils down to merely adding a new instrument to the mix. I fully understand the aesthetic option of creating strategic pit stops along the journey, something that in general enriches the experience and avoids monotony, however, from the moment they are part of the composition they should guarantee the same quality standard, which in my opinion is not fully achieved. This inconsistency is also felt in the second half of songs like 'Lavondėmės' or 'Savigaila', which despite generating contrasts do not possess the same creative prowess.
Despite its insipid, somewhat trivial moments, Savigaila
remains an overwhelming offering that, in its violent outbursts, unleashes an unstoppable Baltic shock wave that few can match. Once the Lithuanian gang succeeds in further balancing their full sound spectrum, namely the contrasts between the softer, more experimental nuances and the more overpowering chromatics, they will be able to upgrade their music to a whole new level. But make no mistake, Savigaila's
highlights are a massive blow to the face, solidifying Erdve as a distinct, bone-crushing force to be reckoned with.