[Cover artwork by Raul Gonzalez]
To say Morbus Chron disappointed the metal public by announcing their split back in the early days of September / 2015 is a bit of an understatement. Their 2011 debut, Sleepers in the Rift, made more than just a ripple when it landed and dispensed a tight but raw collision between a classic Swedeath sound and the early Florida scene, and 2014’s Sweven cranked the progressive experimentation and ended up sweeping through year-end top ten lists like a dramatic fog.
In those days, there was quite a bit of comparable alchemy going on in the Scandinavian death metal scene, and Morbus Chron was operating at full capacity right at the heart of the reactor:
- Necrovation (SWE) – Necrovation [June, 2012]
- Tribulation (SWE) – The Formulas of Death [Mar, 2013]
- Obliteration (NOR) – Black Death Horizon [Nov, 2013]
- Morbus Chron (SWE) – Sweven [Feb, 2014]
- Execration (NOR) – Morbid Dimensions [Sep, 2014]
Point being, with only two full-lengths under their belt, the four young Swedes behind this band quickly proved they had the energy and vision to take death metal to formidably interesting heights, and the world, as they say, was their oyster. But, as is often the case, fortune doesn’t always favor the bold. The dreaded “irreparable differences” reared its ugly head and, just like that, the band suddenly became… Nomorbus Chron.
We’ve all been in the game long enough to know what “irreparable differences” means. The members weren’t arguing about “Iron Maiden vs. Judas Priest,” “burritos vs. cheeseburgers,” or “face paint vs. au naturel.” Well, they could have been, but that probably wasn’t the final nail in the coffin. Bottom line: some folks wanted to go harder / heavier, while others—principal songwriter / guitarist / vocalist Robert Andersson—wanted to push the atmospheric elements that permeated their swan-song to even greater ends. We can finally see that now, as two of the old Chron crüe (guitarist Edvin Aftonfalk and bassist Dag Landin) have decided to head toward speed / punk waters via the impending Tøronto, and Andersson is at long last set to showcase his long-term vision with the even more impending (THIS FRIDAY) Sweven, which pulls lead guitarist Isak Koskinen Rosemarin (Lethal Steel, Speglas) and drummer Jesper Nyrelius (Speglas) into the fold as well.
At the outset, a special tip of the hat must be given to the production job featured here; The Eternal Resonance sounds wonderful and flaunts a deep, luxurious and perfectly balanced tone that’s clean without fully washing away a sort of elemental, earthy sense. This gives the overall atmosphere a very comfortable and homespun feel—like resting on a comfortable bed of moss with all your snail and millipede buds quietly bustling about as the minutes gradually unfold. Three people are noted as benefactors in this sphere: Rasmus Booberg (New Keepers of the Water Towers) for the stellar drum recording, David Castillo (Fascination Street Studios) for “help with electric guitars,” and Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna, Redmount Studios) for the splendid mastering work. I’m not about to say the album is worth it for the production alone (the Opeth effect?), but the likelihood people will end up with their skivvies in a twist over the production here is slimmer than slim. Bass, drums, guitar and vocals are all given equal space to play here, and the results sound amazing.
Outside of a 3-minute instrumental opener, the songs are all long and pack multiple time signature shifts and a bevy of moods into their wanderings. What’s particularly interesting and noteworthy regarding Andersson’s overall boldness, however, is the fact that, outside of some fairly consistent use of piano that (mostly) maps the guitars, the experimentation does not extend to endless ornamentation. There’s a flash or two in “Visceral Blight” where a cosmic synth jumps into the picture, but there are no horns, orchestral strings, etc. coloring the songs’ edges. In this way, The Eternal Resonance achieves complexity in a deceptively straightforward manner. Nevertheless, it is clear that Andersson and crew have spent the better part of the last five or six years analyzing (and likely over-analyzing) every note, hit, transition and lyric, so don’t expect to absorb the full intricacies in a couple weeks.
A bold assumption too early in the game recognizes that the first full song, “By Virtue of a Promise,” as well as the closing triad of “Solemn Retreat,” “Visceral Blight” and “Sanctum Sanctorum,” throw down the highest peaks of the record—bits of shimmery post rock dapple the edges, and the amount of affection Andersson radiates in his roaring mingles beautifully with Rosemarin’s sparse but splendidly emotive lead-play. For now, however, we only have “Mycelia” to play with, which is as good a place as any to jump in because most every song displays the band’s full hand in some form or another.
The jury’s out with regard to where people will find fault with The Eternal Resonance, but find it I’m sure they will. The expectation levels resulting from the Morbus Chron send-off and the span of years that have since passed are about as high as they can get for our strange little progressive death metal realm, so fine-tooth combs are undoubtedly at the ready. It’s feasible that some will find the end result too maudlin? Too melancholy? Who really knows. What’s certain is this: The Eternal Resonance represents a very calculated and logical next step from Sweven, and the prowess behind the songwriting as well as the individual chops here make the record a must-have for anyone who’s been looking forward to experiencing the next phase.
Take your time with The Eternal Resonance, be sure to enjoy it through high-quality equipment, and rejoice that we now have Sweven delivering the goods.