28 Feb 2020 - Thorsten
Melodic-Black-Metal | Black Lion Records | Release date: 28 Feb 2020
Newcomers have one advantage - they cannot disappoint any expectations and therefore their music is taken for what it is - sometimes highly valuable!
Every once in a while there are newcomers who sound as if they have been around for quite some time, as if they are veterans. Sometimes that happens because the people behind those new bands are veterans. With Kvaen that is the case as Jakob Björnfot, the only member of and mastermind behind the project, has been heard on releases by Duskfall and Autumn Death. For the session of The Funeral Pyre he also invited some other prominent musicians like Sebastian Ramstedt (Necrophobic), Perra Karlson (In Aeternum) or Matthew Wicklund (ex- God Forbid) to record an album full of instant melodic black metal hits.
There is something about the sound of Kvaen that makes them stand out, maybe being the mastermind and single songwriter gave this record its straight no-holds-barred approach. The sound is melodic to the core and the whirlwinds ignited by the guitar lines will take you straight to the nose of the Viking ships landing on the shores of enemy-kingdoms when the white horses was over the storming troops when jumping into the deep-freeze waters.
It is forged in the steel baths of classic melodic Swedish death and black metal, although Kvaen are definitely not a death metal band. Jakob has created an album that plays with the punkish and speedy roots of black metal and that also openly flirts with thrash metal’s weakness for lightning bolt guitar solos. There is something Thin-Lizzy-like in the way that two guitars lines are dancing around each other, or rather moshing with each other, and the clever arrangement of one high-tuned and one low-tuned line are really brilliant. However, the most impressive thing are the miniscule slowdowns (e.g. in “Yee Naaldlooshii”) where the beats are taken down only half a notch but still so audibly that this short breath of fresh air and change leaves one breathless.
All in all, this is quite a remarkable debut album – but on the other hand it’s not a debut album with it’s usual flaws and youthfulness because it was written by an experienced mastermind and performed by veterans and, most important of all, it doesn’t sound one bit old-fashioned but state-of-the-art and still timeless.