Sweven - The Eternal Resonance
Van Records
Progressive Death Metal
8 songs (1:00:27)
Release year: 2020
Official Bandcamp, Van Records
Reviewed by Goat

Following on directly after Morbus Chron imploded due to that old cliché, musical differences, the freshly-born Sweven is about as obvious a statement of "more of the same" as it's possible to get, frontman Robert Andersson constructing a new band and naming it after the final Morbus Chron release. For a band that existed less than ten years and only released two albums to receive so much hype will raise the hackles of those who are used to bigger drama from the underground scene - this is no Celtic Frost into Triptykon-level of shattering! Instead, The Eternal Resonance is basically the third Morbus Chron album. It's certainly a next step in that direction, pushing more at the plodding progressive elements and reducing the death metal even moreso. And while the cynic residing in this critic's heart feels the whole project, under whatever name, is overhyped ego-worship that prioritises skill over songwriting, the fact remains that Sweven the album was pretty good, even if it felt like the answer to an essay question around what an especially unexciting comeback record from Death would sound like...

So what about Sweven the band? The Eternal Resonance would be a pure prog album were it not for the howled vocals, sounding deranged enough at points to push this towards blackened territory, albeit always brought back to earth thanks to the lengthy instrumental sections. It's difficult to listen to the melodic twists and turns of, say, the nine minutes of By Virtue of a Promise and mistake this for death metal, as strident as some of the riffing can be. And Death the band is less of a touchstone here, too, despite the proggy exploration of guitar lines that is downright Schuldiner-esque in tone at points, although it often veers away from it. Modern Enslaved verges on being just an obvious a touchstone at points, the strums and complex drumming that opens Reduced to an Ember, for example.

Yet for all the experimental impulse that melds 90s death metal and 70s prog, there just isn't quite enough actual experimentation to warrant the weight of a full hour-plus album. A lot of the songs here sound similar, have similar structures, and are similarly lengthy with all but two songs stretching over the seven-minute mark. This alone makes the bursts of widdly soloing in The Sole Importance an album highlight, the markedly different Mycelia having pretty much sole standing as a song in its own right as it opens with a touch of upbeat doom, leaning towards classic rock as it progresses with some great old-school keyboard usage. Elsewhere, songs could all be part of a lengthy whole, this vibe not helped by too many moments being too meandering, even with touches like the black metal influence lifting its head on Visceral Blight or those chanted choral vocals that see out the gentler Sanctum Sanctorum. Could we not have had these spread across the album? It does, alas, all come down to songwriting, something that Sweven is still a little lacking in skill at. So although The Eternal Resonance is a fine proggy voyage and a lot of fun to listen to if you're the type that likes to lose themselves in repeated plays of a difficult album, it is otherwise rather difficult to recommend. Let's hope Sweven channels an impressive formula into more impressive results on future releases.

Killing Songs :
The Sole Importance, Mycelia, Visceral Blight
Goat quoted 75 / 100
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