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Sworn's debut The Alleviation is a melodic metal triumph. They have strong black metal influences, but also incorporate traditional metal stylings and riffs into their compositions. There are even hints of thrash and power metal present in these multi-layered, rich tracks. Also present is a somber, ethereal atmosphere accomplished by the twin guitars, and notably without the added flourishes of a synth. The vocals are intense and emotional, performed as a blackened rasp that is more clear and present than the usual black metal recording. All of these qualities add to Sworn's unique approach to melodic extreme metal, which is refreshing to my ears.
To make a convenient comparison, I would call this style a blend of Amon Amarth and Emperor (without keyboards). But this does not quite suffice, as the dark and somber mood of these tracks also bring to mind the metal of Finland's Insomnium. Do not be fooled, however, into thinking that this release is merely another forgettable melodic death metal offering. I would place these Norwegians in the same category as bands such as Catamenia or Gorath, as they all incorporate the sensibilities of 90's melodic black metal, but do so with their own individualized touch.
In the case of Sworn, I would emphasize the overall mood, which is dark and introspective. There is no definite theme or subject agenda with the lyrics. Rather, they seem very reflective and personal, dealing with human emotions and realities from a deep, almost supernatural perspective.
There are many opportunities to head bang on this album, which I found especially exciting. The record has a magestic quality, so the head banging must be done in a dignified manner! Sworn is a band that is very easy and natural to take seriously, as their compositions and approach to metal is a mature and measured one. I highly recommend this band.
Sworn’s style can best be described as melodic death metal meets melodic black metal, with various other metal subgenres compiled with this pairing. While many consider melodic black/death metal to be exhausted genres, Sworn have coupled these genres to create a recipe for original music.
The moods encouraged in this music are contrasting for the most part. ‘Crow of Passage’ is loaded with despair whilst the proceeding track ‘Vivid Visions’ uses black metal riffs to create a positive sound. This is quite a challenge to undertake but these Norwegians have executed it successfully, placing these non-archetypal black metal riffs along side riffs that are reminiscent of early Satyricon.
‘Derived’ is an intriguing instrumental with a sound quality that makes it appear as though the listener is hearing and old record player. There is the presence of a violin and the simplicity makes the brief piece sound eerie. This is a nice touch.
The primary limitations of this release are that some of the guitar riffs become tiresome, not so fresh to hear repeatedly in an entire passage of music. On a more trivial matter, this album just does not seem to be lengthy enough, clocking in at under forty minutes for seven tracks. The mood is one that takes a while to digest but as soon as one is engulfed by it, the album ends. This is fresh music, embellished by great production. More of it is certainly in order.
Originally written for: www.soundshock.net
Black metal isn’t really my cup of tea . There are some exceptions, and Sworn is one of them. Formed around 2005 in Bergen ( the hometown of important black metal acts like Immortal and Gorgoroth ), this young quintet makes their debut with “The Alleviation” . Its 35 minutes show clear influences of varied genres, like melodic death metal, thrash metal and even some viking/folk metal, while keeping their melodic black metal sound. Those influences make their sounds quite unique, keeping them apart from their "neighbours" Enslaved,Gorgoroth and Immortal. The six songs ( seven, counting a small instrumental interlude ) are very interesting and mature, varying between speedy tracks full of melancholic melodies, thrashy riffs, NWOBHM influenced solos and those indispensable, fast tremolo-picking rhythm guitar riffs and slower parts, with a harsh viking metal vibe. The vocals, cold and high pitched fit the atmosphere of the album, but some variation in the vocal department wouldn’t be a bad idea. The song structures show some maturity and variety with the drummer varying a lot between fast and slow tempos.
Concluding: a good melo-black album and a very promising debut.
(originally written for pivotal rage )