Shiva - Desert Dreams
MTM Music
Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
10 songs (44:58)
Release year: 2004
Shiva, MTM Music
Reviewed by Crims

Shiva is essentially a two person band from Sweden. Featuring Annette Johansson on vocals and Mats Edstrom doing most of the instrumentation and backing vocals, the band has put together a very fresh sounding CD that mixes aspects of Heavy Metal and Melodic Hard Rock with dashes of Speed Metal. This is their second effort and it has dominated my CD player for a solid month.

From listening to one song on the CD it’s impossible to grasp fully the extent of the bands sound. Rather than mix the various styles into single songs Shiva, more often than not, have distinct songs in particular styles. The CD opens with two of the faster and heavier tracks in Mystery Of Mind and Desert Dreams. The first song has a definite Power/Speed Metal feel with unique vocal melodies while Desert Dreams has a distinct middle-eastern flair in the verse and then proceeds with a very Melodic Hard Rock styled chorus. Next up is the double bass monster Unjustify The Truth with its 80’s styled Power Metal riffs with a Judas Priest sound that crops up ever so slightly. I’m not going to do a track by track listing but I wanted to point out how each song offers a new experience to the listener. Many songs near the end of the track listing and during the middle, such as Passenger Of Live, are without a doubt Melodic Hard Rock songs with no semblance of anything Metal in them. The trick is that Shiva does both their Metal side and Hard Rock side extremely well with only a couple of weak tracks such as Losing My Child, which as the title suggests has very emotional lyrics but the slow, plodding ballad structure of the song didn’t do much for me.

Where the band is very consistent is in the vocal department. Johansson has an excellent voice and it’s nice to hear a non-operatic female singer in a band of this style. Her style is very similar to her male counter-parts in the Melodic Hard Rock genre. She can hit the high notes but is more comfortable in the mid-range which may be mistaken for a male singer singing high. She handles the Metal tracks with the mid-range style mostly and her timing is usually fast-paced to match the drumming and she offers at times haunting choruses and hook filled passages without dropping into cheesy Power Metal territory. Meanwhile, during the more Hard Rock influenced tracks, we hear a different tone and range in her voice. She shows a higher degree of technical ability but at the same time shows a tremendous amount of restraint and never overpowers the instrumentation. I was also reminded on ocassion during some of her higher holds of Geoff Tate Mindcrime era. The main thing here is that Johansson is as versatile as the music and that’s definitely what the band needs.

The production is excellent with the guitars and the bass having a strong 80’s Hard Rock feel. Modern sounding this is not and fits the tone of the music perfectly. I did enjoy the guitar work along with the very subtle keyboards as found on Completely Strangers. Edstrom has a strong grasp within the different influences. He can Speed Metal riff just as well as he can play melody building progression in the slower songs. He isn’t doing anything new in the playing or song writing department, but what the band offers is a fresh sound based on the entire listening experience of the CD. You probably wouldn’t think twice when listening to just a single song but when you put each track into the context of the whole CD and how well it changes mood and styles it becomes more remarkable. You do really have to a be a fan of both styles (Traditional Heavy Metal and Melodic Hard Rock) to like this CD though, because as I said, most songs are either one or the other with very few that meld together except for a chorus or short break. I really enjoyed this CD and have listened to it maybe 10 times over the course of the last month and the melodies are so strong in some of the mid-paced songs that they send shivers down my spine when I listen to them, and at the same time I enjoyed the fast tempos and Power/Speed riffs in the fast songs. It quenched a lot of different musical thirsts that I usually need multiple CDs for. I know a lot of our readers enjoy both Melodic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal and I highly recommend you visit the bands website and listen to the samples to give this band a chance, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Killing Songs :
Mystery Of Mind, Desert Dreams, Unjustify The Truth, Completey Strangers, Passenger Of Live, and The Preacher.
Crims quoted 85 / 100
1 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Oct 17, 2005 11:14 am
View and Post comments