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Morbus Chron’s Sweven

I’d been meaning to wait until the end of the year to talk about Morbus Chron‘s new album in the customary post where I evaluate each year’s music offerings. However, as with other albums that blew my mind in the past, I decided to dedicate an entire post to the miracle titled “Sweven”. I seriously doubt that some new album between now and the end of the year will manage to knock “Sweven” off its position as my favorite album of 2014.

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Morbus Chron is a Death Metal band from Sweden. Their first album, “Sleepers in the rift” is a Death masterpiece. Truth be told, it would be impossible to hear this album without thinking of “Severed survival”, “Mental funeral”, “Acts of the unspeakable”, “Leprosy” or “Scream bloody gore”. There are riffs in “Sleepers…” that have been almost MORBUS-CHRON-Sleepers-in-the-Riftdirectly lift off Autopsy songs. But that doesn’t make the album any less brilliant. The way these influences have been woven into Morbus Chron’s compositional style, with the excellent performance by the band and clever humorous lyrics, make up a record that can stand proudly next to all the old school brutal masterpieces, such as the aforementioned Autopsy and Death albums. Deformation of the dark matter, the last song off “Sleepers…”, considerably more dissonant and “progressive” than the rest of the songs, anticipates the direction Morbus Chron would take in the future. The follow-up e.p. “A saunter through the shroud” takes further the “progressive” elements that Morbus Chron flirted with on that song. Accordingly, their most recent offering, “Sweven”, doesn’t come as a surprise.

MorbusChron-Sweven-Cover“Sweven” is a unique musical experience. I think it’s the first time I actually think that, finally, there is a band that is a worthy successor of early Dismember, Entombed, Afflicted and At the Gates. “Sweven” is a concept album about life and death. However, existence is presented here in its bare, primordial form, stripped of the ornaments of culture and the fantasies of materiality (the same cannot be said regarding the band’s fantasy of immateriality though). Existence is being disclosed as a continuum of life and death. This is symbolically presented in the manner in which the album begins and ends. The album both starts and ends with the same backmasked clean guitar melody. The resulting incomprehensible melody could signify the elusive state between life and death. Robert’s shouting vocals give a sense of alertness and urgency throughout the album, perhaps signifying that every existential moment is sacred and should be attended to and experienced to the fullest. Edvin has contributed one song on this album (just like in the first album where he wrote the brilliant Red hook horror), the most straightforwardly death metal song titled Aurora in the offing. This song is the closest any band has ever gotten to achieving the magic of Entombed‘s “Clandestine”. All the other songs were composed by Robert. There is great variety in the songwriting. Most songs have long instrumental sections during which melodies are developed and different meanings and emotions are conveyed. While the atmosphere of the album could be described as “dark”, this darkness connotes the need for exploration, rather than desperation. This exploration usually results in things that are revealing and comforting. There is not as much fast tremolo-picking and palm-muting as one would expect from a Swedish death band; there is a wide use of arpeggiated chords, harmonies and some clean guitars. The main melody of Towards a dark sky, realised through a high-pitched tremolo-picked riff, flirts with Black Metal aesthetics. Beyond life’s sealed abode is probably my favorite song. The build-up leading up to the first verse, the melody when the singing starts, as well as the harmony that concludes the first verse verse and contributes in bringing out the vocal interpretation is pure genius. This moment is just one among several simply breathtaking moments on this album; just note the awesome tension conveyed by Robert’s delivery when he sings “to nurse me through birth and adolescence, with my controls set for the heart of the sun”, on Ripening life, and certain melodies, such as one in the middle of The perennial link and the final one in Terminus that concludes the album.

The art that compliments the songs on this album, both cover art and the individual illustrations that accompany each song in the booklet, deserves special mention. Each song is represented visually through a series of magnificent illustrations by Raul Gonzalez. All in all, this album is an absolute masterpiece to the very last detail. With each one of their releases, Morbus Chron keep setting the standards for what extreme music should aim for.

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[…] My favorite album from 2014 is Morbus Chron’s Sweven. I feel blessed to have lived the release of an album like this one. As I have said several times during the last year, Morbus Chron is the pride of contemporary Death metal. Their latest album is musical in the old sense of the word; that is, it has songs that are thought-through, coherent compositions, musical narratives, with an introduction, a story that musically unfolds in the main part of the song and a conclusion. The production of the album was craftily handled by none other than Fred Estby, a veteran of Swedish death metal. The result is a sound that is completely different from all the homogenised contemporary productions where everything sounds fake. Instead, here one can actually hear a band of people playing music, doing mistakes and being passionate, elements that I think are lost with modern productions. For a more detailed review of Sweven read here. […]

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