Monday, December 12, 2011

Sworn - The Alleviation


I’ve been listening to black metal for about four years. I can still remember the first black metal song I ever heard; It was Black Crow on a Tombstone by Satyricon. I heard it on the Sirius/XM metal station (I think only you Americans know what that is, it’s a satellite radio thing that has tons of stations). Of course, Satyricon is one of the heavier black metal bands, but right after that, I came to discover Immortal, Naglfar, Wolves in the Throne Room, Dimmu Borgir, Ceremonial Castings, Xasthur, and Sworn (which is the band I am going to talk about today). And since then, black metal has actually become my all-time favorite music genre. This was the first album I got by Sworn; I saw that they’re Norwegian so I assumed that they at least had to be decent. Let’s just say they surpassed my expectations.

Sworn is one of the more melodic black metal bands. Apparently from what I’ve heard, they’re actually pretty big in Norway and Sweden. This is actually my favorite type of black metal; melodic, but still heavy enough to headbang and mosh to. Even though I’m a huge black metal fan, I’m still very aware that black metal has almost as many bands that suck as grindcore (maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit). But I’m not kidding that there isn’t a super large number of good black metal bands, but the few bands that are good are amazing.

The one trait about this album that has always stuck out to me the most is the fuzzy guitar distortion. It’s not a really dirty distortion that you’d find in a lot of metal bands out there, it’s a really clean distortion that actually is part of what makes the music sound so melodic. But that alone isn’t enough to impress me, the guitarists are also very skilled and knowledgeable about what they do. Their lead guitarist plays this amazing solo in “Heart of Decay” about 2 minutes 40 second in. Their drummer is also extremely unique.

What’s this? A black metal drummer that is NOT playing constant blast beats?? Their drummer is one of the most creative black metal drummers to come out of Norway. He has almost a constant double kick going, but with constantly changing fills and hits on the rest of his drum set. I saw an interview of him on YouTube (which was in Norwegian, but one of the users translated it for us American dimwits) and saw that his goal was to start a new creative trend in black metal percussion work by not playing constant blast beats.

Their vocalist is also one of the better in the genre. I actually really like it when vocal-fry screams are used in black metal. Some other black metal bands that use that vocal style are Keep of Kalessin and Naglfar. This is quite a delectable album that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in black metal, so I would rate this 17/20.