REVIEW: SVÄRD – “The Rift” [EP]
It is not a frequent phenomenon that one finds music where a band tastefully uses traditional heavy metal influences with a tasteful modern interpretation. Sure it has been done quite often, in the sense that, our experiences of heavy metal and metal music, in general, is informed by the lingering of traditional heavy metal influences in contemporary metal music. But a revisit to the quirky stylistics of traditional heavy metal that meets some psychedelic influences would be quite fun. This is exactly what SVÄRD has done with their EP ‘The Rift’. In fact, this EP is quite a fun record to play. In recent times, metal is better associated with an air of seriousness in the feel of the music irrespective of how much one enjoys the music. ‘The Rift’ on the other hand limits the feeling of seriousness only to the musical prowess of the line-up. The sounds and the music are topped with oodles of fun. The groovy beats, hard stomping passages, the gnarly bass, the heavy guitars, thundering drums and the carnival-like singing surely create great vibes on the record.
The EP opens up with an atmospheric filler titled “Hallowed Grounds” before proceeding to bring in the heavy stuff with “A Rift In The Green”. The music opens up with a wall of sound that is not a distorted mess. Everything can be heard clearly and individually. The song sets the vibe of the album and despite the hype building in the music, it really does not go all out to tire you out right away at the start. “Palaeocene Flames” is my personal favorite off this record. The tasty guitar intro is definitely nostalgic for epic guitar intros of the yesteryears of heavy metal music. The song is, in a limited sense a little time machine into the progression of heavy metal through time. Everything about this track is really through and steadfast. “The Burning Asylum” came as a surprise on this EP. The rhythmic arrangements and the nice groovy pockets courtesy of the fantastic drumming were quite the surprise. The transitions from heaviness to using ambiances to build into newer sections and the guitar solos were remarkably good. The EP closes with “Portal”. The psychedelic influences, though quite present throughout the EP take the limelight here. Slight doom metal influences make their way into this epic nine-minute track. Parts of this song subtly hint at revisiting motifs of other tracks from the record but go on to make its own musical sequences. A lot of riffs and a multitude of styles come together for this one track to present an epic conclusion to this track.
‘The Rift’ by SVÄRD is a banger of a record. Heavy, menacing, gnarly, and tasteful- ‘The Rift’ manages to bring in a lot to the table in a musical and heavy context. From revisiting a lot of traditional heavy metal influences to bringing in a strong dose of psychedelic vibes on the record, SVÄRD did magic with ‘The Rift’. Among the many nice things on the record, one must take the time to really applaud and dig into the mix and production of this record. The engineering is absolutely a class apart and second to none. In fact, this record is an incentive to dig deep into what makes a great and heavy record in a modern context. Given that Jonas Kjellgren (Sabaton, Hypocrisy, In Mourning, October Tide, Amorphis, etc.) worked on this record, it should be no surprise that ‘The Rift’ sounded as good as it did. The composition of the music did what it had to do- to sound heavy and catchy without sounding like a burden of effort. The record features Tim Nedergård (Guitars, Vocals), Björn Pettersson (Guitars, Vocals), Pierre Stam (Bass, Vocals), and Cornelius Althammer (Drums). All in all, ‘The Rift’ is an enjoyable record, though a little stretched at times but still quite fun to play.