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An Ideal Melding of Styles - 90%

dustinumberger, April 13th, 2011

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.