When I was younger, I would get asked “how can you even listen to metal?” by people who weren’t into the genre. I don’t get asked that question anymore because I’m not friends with close-minded people anymore but my answer used to be “how can you not?” Ever since I hit puberty, metal has just been a natural thing for me, an extension of my psychological and emotional makeup. Maybe it’s because I feel things strongly, maybe it’s because I’m insecure, or maybe some other reason I have yet to divine. Whatever it is, metal just speaks to me in an unmediated, powerful way; it just feels right. More than that, it also gives me tools to speak, to experience the world around me, to make sense of our nonsensical existence.
It’s been a while since an album made my remember all of this, to feel it in a cognizant way instead of just as obvious background noise of my personality but Sweven‘s The Eternal Resonance has managed to do it. At its core, if you forced me to define it, The Eternal Resonance is a progressive death metal album. It has beautifully realized acoustic passages, heavier, dynamic riffs, and a complex layout and structure. But it’s also much more than that; it really doesn’t sound like anything else in the genre. It fuses elements from doom metal to create more mournful segments. It explores post-metal influences in the way its vocals behave and sound. More then anything, comparisons and taxonomies aside, it just speaks to me on a deep, almost spiritual level, and reminds me why I love metal so much.
I think it was the way the ending of “By Virtue of A Promise” and how it feeds into “Reduced To An Ember” that first made me realize how amazing this album really is. The end of “Promise”, the second track on the album, has this monstrously moving guitar line that’s been stuck in my head ever since I first heard. It’s backed up by the album’s incredible vocals, powerful, abrasive, and intensely evocative. As it explores the relationship between that riff and the vocals, with great work from the drums to keep things moving forward and varied, it builds up this tension that’s just hard to contain. It forces you to feel and to move. And then, right before the nine minute mark, the bottom just falls out from under you. That riff, which was sustained by so much energy just disappears, the vocals elongate into a painful cry, and the music disappears, leaving you with a few last chords and a whole lot of feelings.
And then “Reduced To An Ember” swoops in and, with a beautiful acoustic segment, sweeps you off your feet. You’re already vulnerable from the way that the previous track resolved itself and “Ember” capitalizes on that vulnerability. But the acoustic segment, with its melancholy, is also a bridge, a “setup”, leading you towards the triumphant return of the guitars and the vocals. The music returns to the heights of the previous track but it and us both are transformed; the instruments and vocals now have a new sheen to them and our ears are listening differently, attuned to the return of the acoustic passages. Everything has morphed, now seeming much like the cover art to the album: introspective, lonesome, blue, weird, intriguing. The album keeps plunging these depths, like the incredible dip in “The Sole Importance”, as the vocals go real low, and how it’s then borne on the back of the drums into dizzying heights. The Eternal Resonance is about exploring the crevasses of these emotional movements and giving them voice, giving them flight, expressing them out into the world for others to feel and, dare I say, resonate with.
And that were just two and some change tracks. The album has plenty more rises, drops, bends, corners, and loops, as it winds its way through an aural geography that is intensely unique. Because Sweven are masters of composition (I’m not going to go into their pedigree here, look it up), everything feels organic, right, natural. Like metal is supposed to feel; an extension of your own psyche, a manifestation and channel for your emotions at the same time. The Eternal Resonance is just that; it feels like home, it effortlessly achieves the catharsis that metal is all about. For me, at least. For me, this is one of the best metal albums I’ve heard in years and certainly one of the highlights of 2020 so far. Let it unfold before you; you won’t regret it.
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The Eternal Resonance releases today, the 20th of March. This is also a reminder that today, Bandcamp are giving 100% of all sales to the artists so, you know, head on over to that Bandcamp page and do the thing.