Sunday, December 23, 2012

Burning Saviours – Förbannelsen 7” Series

Though the ‘Förbannelsen 7” Series’ kicked off in 2011, the circle has finally been completed with three of the four discs being released over a span of several months in 2012. The mark III incarnation of Burning Saviours has shed the ill-conceived, hippy-dippy inclinations of ‘Nymphs & Weavers’ in favor of a darker, doomier approach that rivals the band’s excellent self-titled debut and the arguably greater follow-up, ‘Hundus’. The departure of vocalist/guitarist Andrei Amartinesei following the ‘Hundus’ full-length and subsequent single, ‘The Giant’, seemed to cripple the band beyond repair. The following third full-length, ‘Nymphs & Weavers’, was an odd misstep that featured uninspired songwriting and the vocals of Fredrik Andersson who paled in comparison to Amartinesei despite Andersson being a capable vocalist. The death knell had seemingly signaled the demise of Sweden’s Burning Saviours.

After a two year slumber the band arose from the grave in 2010 with the addition of guitarist Jonas Hartikainen and original guitarist Mikael Monks assuming vocal duties. The end result is quite different from the sound established on the band’s earlier recordings, but no less compelling. Burning Saviours still occupies that realm of warm, retro-inspired hard rock that is currently being mined by numerous bands—particularly by bands from Sweden—but they are exploring a sound more congruent with the proto-doom pioneers of the 70’s. The ‘Förbannelsen 7” Series’ is darker both musically and, most notably, lyrically from the band’s self-titled debut and follow-up, ‘Hundus’. Mikael Monks has done an effective job of taking the reins and sliding into the role of front man. His voice may not be as distinctive or expressive as former vocalist Amartinesei, but he is able to belt out catchy vocal melodies that really complement the doomier direction the band has taken.

The 70’s influences of the collection are difficult to miss and the eight tracks effortlessly combine moments of hard rock, soulful breakdowns, Thin Lizzy inspired dueling guitars, and straight-up, unabashed doom riffs. The first single, ‘Förbannelsen’, kicks off with an upbeat title track sung in Swedish. Burning Saviours have returned. The guitar tones are warmer and richer than anything the band has recorded to this point and really illustrates that Burning Saviours aren’t merely interested in repeating the sound of their earlier recordings. “Midnight”, the B-side to “Förbannelsen”, is a more somber tune due to its slower pace and soulful lead guitar playing courtesy of Hartikainen. “Midnight” also features Monks singing in English, a trend that will continue through six of the seven remaining tracks. The second single, ‘The Offering’, begins with an ominous guitar intro reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s self-titled song from their debut before catapulting into one of the strongest, nod-inducing riffs to be found in the series. “The Offering” is easily one of the standout tracks of the collection. “Spirit of the Woods” is a barn burning, blues inspired rocker that has more in common with most of the other Swedish exports.

The third 7”, ‘The Nightmare’, finds the band in more soulful territory, both musically and vocally. Monks really pushes himself vocally on the title track as he simultaneously laments and curses a figure from the past who haunts his dreams. While the bulk of the song has a bluesy, downtrodden feel, it does launch into moments of blistering guitar playing that brings to mind Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson in their prime. “Doomus Maximus”, another stand-out track, returns to the 70’s inspired proto-doom sound that this incarnation of Burning Saviours plays so well. Like the A-side to this single, “Doomus Maximus” has its soulful moments that appear midway through the song. The final single, ‘Hon Dansade med Döden’ kicks off with “I am Lucifer” which continues Burning Saviours’ journey into darker lyrical content by seemingly finding inspiration in Milton’s Paradise Lost. “Hon Dansade med Döden”, a proto-metal burner, appropriately bookends the 7” series by being sung exclusively in Swedish. While the end track isn’t as initially gratifying as the series opener, “Förbannelsen”, it is far from weak.

The reformation of Burning Saviours and the ensuing release of the ‘Förbannelsen 7” Series’ has signaled the band’s return to form, albeit with a slightly different approach. While Burning Saviours has always been rooted in vintage sounding doom, the mark III incarnation seems to be delving deeper into the abyss. For those who were turned off by the band’s lamentable third release, ‘Nymphs & Weavers’, the ‘Förbannelsen 7” Series’ offers redemption in a big way. Hopefully the band will continue to follow their current trajectory and produce a full-length in 2013 that is just as good, if not better than this collection of singles. Highly recommended for fans of their earlier work, vintage sounding metal in all of its forms, and doom.

Words: Steve Miller
(Originally published at Doommantia)


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