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Sweven > The Eternal Resonance > Reviews
Sweven - The Eternal Resonance

Promise me that all I give will come twofold in return - 98%

EzraBlumenfeld, January 20th, 2021

There's a new style of progressive death metal that has been emerging in relative obscurity over the past few years. It first gained widespread attention with Morbus Chron's sophomore album Sweven, which showed an interest in beautiful sonic textures that is not altogether common in the world of extreme metal. Morbus Chron broke up shortly after that release; but in 2020, frontman Robert Andersson formed a new group, named after that groundbreaking album, to continue the legacy he had created. Shortly after being formed, Sweven released The Eternal Resonance, an album that has perfectly achieved all any band of this new style could ever aspire to.

What really sets The Eternal Resonance apart from so many other atmospheric death metal albums is its predominant use of clean guitars. Though distorted guitars are certainly present for plenty of the album, they do not carry a particularly thick overdrive; and they're vastly overshadowed by their clean counterparts, which have a rich, full tone that enhances every riff they play. Some of the best moments on the album occur when layers of clean guitars are overlaid with a serpentine soundscape of distorted leads (hear the final moments of "Reduced to an Ember" for a great example of this). The drums have a sophisticated, jazz-influenced sound to them, not too far off from what one might expect to hear in Opeth's softer work. The basslines are minimalistic, but carry the guitar riffs well.

One of the very coolest aspects of The Eternal Resonance, in my opinion, is Robert Andersson's stunning vocal performance. He has an energy and desperation in his delivery that is almost unheard of; his tortured screams on "By Virtue of a Promise" sound like his vocal cords are actually being torn out of his body. These haunting shrieks pair very nicely with the atmospheric instrumental passages, creating an incredibly harsh contrast between the gentle nature of the compositions and the violent screaming of the band's leader.

It's not easy to describe The Eternal Resonance; it's a very well-done album, but the majority of its features were completely alien to death metal until recent years, so it's hard to know how well it'll hold up as this style becomes more thoroughly developed. I look forward to Sweven's releases in the future; for whether they stick to this same sound or continue to push the boundaries of death metal, they're undeniably masters of their craft and it would be hard for them to create something anything short of fascinating.

Favorite songs: "By Virtue of a Promise," "The Sole Importance," "Visceral Blight," and "Sanctum Sanctorum"

A flaccid cocktail of meandering non-events - 55%

we hope you die, April 2nd, 2020

The long awaited follow up to Morbus Chron’s revered 2015 offering of the same name, Robert Andersson returns with new project Sweven, and a new album: ‘The Eternal Resonance’. Much like the album itself, my feelings on this are a flaccid cocktail of meandering, unfocused, directionless non-events. In one sense Morbus Chron’s swansong did show promise, but was nowhere near deserving of the hype it received. Having said that, I was mildly disappointed that they disbanded, as the project clearly had unfinished business. But life moves on, and upon hearing that Andersson was returning under a new name, the direction of which could only pick up on where he left off given the name of the new outfit, I was pleasantly surprised, but hardly creaming myself with anticipation.

The problems with the album ‘Sweven’ centred on a lack of conceptual unity, and frustration given the fact that there were good ideas beneath the unfocused veneer. But ‘The Eternal Resonance’ pulls a hand-break turn on proceedings, and swerves the project into a completely different direction. Rather than address the shortcomings of ‘Sweven’, this album ignores them, and offers us what is essentially a prog rock version of the same, with a scattering of metal influenced riffs here and there. As a result, we are left with pretty much the same issues as before, and we have learnt nothing as a result. There are good ideas here, there is a pleasant surprise or two in the way some of the tracks develop, but they are quite simply not worth the hour runtime to get to. Further, the truly proggy elements that the album often stumbles in and out of feel about thirty years (or more?) out of date.

Some may wish to praise the understated nature of this anticipated album (there’s no denying it’s a mellow one), some may wish to praise the cinematic feel to some of the soundscapes and emotional depth that it apparently holds. But the reality is they are propping up an effervescent nothing. Motifs build into crescendos that go nowhere. Themes are developed only to peter out when the band has apparently run out of ideas. Whatever intense emotional core is evidently intended to be at the heart of this album comes over as contrived, overworked, and in places cheaply sentimental (I can feel the ever-looming spectre of Opeth and sycophants behind a lot of ‘The Eternal Resonance).

These shortcomings are not unique to Sweven’s debut. Progressive metal is laden with it. There’s a lot of music to unpack here, not just in terms of the techniques and influences employed but also the instruments: acoustic guitars are used liberally, what sounds like a real piano, synthesisers, all have the fuck played out of them by these musicians. A truly in depth analysis is beyond the scope of this review. But does it serve a purpose aside from offering a demonstration of the range of the instruments utilised, and how they can play off each other? Many passages are certainly impressive, but whatever tension and intrigue is developed all too often ends in a lazy unsatisfying cadence, or cruelly without catharsis. And therein lies the reason why the emotional core of this album feels clumsy, overcooked, contrived. Musical intuition is abandoned for the sake of vapid stylistic ends. I made a similar point in regards to ‘Sweven’; there are good ideas here. Lift them out of this album, rearrange some of it, and you could have a halfway decent prog album. As it stands we have a clunky hybrid of mixed quality.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

Renouncing life to live - 95%

noisevortex, March 23rd, 2020

Conveying emotions is one of the prime qualities of extreme music. When our feelings are too much to bear. When we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Extreme music can be an outlet for self-expression. Art is communication and emotions drive the process of creation. As part of the continued evolution of metal, a handful of bands emerged in death metal over the last decade. Rooted on the 2000s, bands like Tribulation, Morbus Chron, Chapel of Disease or Horrendous cast their offerings into the ring.

The sound these bands offered was at once forward-thinking but also familiar, drawing on progressive and psychedelic influences. While Tribulation won the popular vote, the single most outstanding album of this substyle was Morbus Chron’s Sweven. Morbus Chron made their full-length debut with Sleepers in the Rift in 2011. At the time, their straightforward swedeath sound was inspired by Autopsy and Entombed, the usual. But on the following A Saunter Through the Shroud EP, the band first stretched out their feelers into the surreal. Two years later, the transformation was complete. The result: Sweven. A dream of death and a milestone of modern death metal.

On Sweven, Morbus Chron broke the boundaries of the genre. Main songwriter Robert Andersson plunged the band’s sound into ominous psychedelic atmospheres and explorations of the otherworldy. A journey of coming into existence, to struggle and to finally be freed from the shackles of our physical realm. Sweven was enigmatic, foreboding, different.

A year after the release of the album, the band surprisingly called it quits. There was no bad blood but it had to happen as creative differences had formed between the bandmembers. Andersson left Morbus Chron behind but his journey was far from over. He set out to continue what he had started. To obtain the bliss, that he desired.

Six long years later, his efforts have finally born fruit. Named after the album that started everything, Sweven make their debut with The Eternal Resonance. Isak Koskinen Rosemarin and Jesper Nyrelius join Andersson on guitars and drums respectively to realize his vision. Together, the trio advance deep into uncharted territory as they redefine the capabilities of heavy music.

Fans of Morbus Chron will recognize Anderssons handwriting immediately. More than that, it has matured considerably. Album opener The Spark is a shivers-inducing instrumental rich with texture. Introduced by acoustic guitars, the composition grows in layers. Soft guitar melodies join with somber piano chords in an atmosphere of departure. The resonance is felt immediately and with it Andersson’s greatest strength as a composer: To translate emotions into music.

The album seamlessly transitions into the next song. By Virtue of a Promise elicits wistful sighs with a pensive intro before plunging into a well of emotion. Each note is an arrow to the longing heart, announced by Andersson’s passionate vocal performance. Vulnerable but confident, fists are clenched as tears are driven from the eyes. Despite the gentle instrumentation, the emotions are overwhelming. Spanning almost ten minutes, By Virtue of a Promise is a journey that reflects everything that Andersson’s songwriting stands for. Cold atmospheres, approaching horror shrouded in fog, blown away to reveal exhilarating moments of clarity.

That being said, the highlights of The Eternal Resonance are firmly situated at the beginning and the end of the album. Some trimming or a change of pace wouldn’t hurt the tracks in between but they are stunning nonetheless. Each one of the painstakingly arranged songs is packed with melodies that unravel into gentle climaxes or lock into firm grooves rooted in classic rock. The quality of the songwriting on The Eternal Resonance cannot be overstated. The textures, the progressions, the interplay, it’s all masterclass. The additional instrumentation comes as little surprises spread throughout the album that I will leave for you to discover.

Just before the climax of the album, Visceral Blight marks the only more intense cut. A shame, since the band does well at a higher pace too. Closer Sanctum Sanctorum recalls Towards A Dark Sky off of Morbus Chron’s Sweven with its soaring guitars. The grandeur resolves into intimacy and initiates a tranquil ascent before choirs see us off. To awaken again, from another dream.

Sweven continue where Morbus Chron left off. Musically more out there than ever, The Eternal Resonance is personal and profound. It rips through the heartstrings as it grapples with the monumental. From self-doubt and the frustrations of life to letting go and ascending to higher planes. The Eternal Resonance is of importance not just to the band that birthed it but metal as an art form. Music is art and as such the concern lies with metal that aims to create high art. With this album, Sweven succeed in every regard. The long journey has finally come to an end and bliss is the reward for the weary traveller.