4 out of 5
Produced by: Tore Stjerna (recorded by)
Label: Hydra Head Records
Discogs suggests there are several people in this band; Allmusic reports it as one dude – Pär Gustafsson. Setting aside that its wildly impressive I this is one dude is the notion that the album is already impressive even if figured as a full band; the musicality – the range of it- is awesome, and Pär steps out of the doom metal growling persona to similarly expand upon his vocal approach. The album is still definitely a heavy one, though, like before, it’s not the type of heavy one might assume from the German origins and gloomy artwork. Allmusic tosses some impressive references into the mix – like Captain Beefheart! – which I’m not qualified enough to ascribe. What I hear, though, is an amped up and metalfied version of some of the 90s great alt-metal acts like Soundgarden or Alice in Chains. Bergraven go a lot further than that, but some of the core rhythms bear that mark, giving the album a sense of groove and grounding some chugga-chugga metal acts lack.
And then to that we layer on the aforementioned ‘further’: The speed-riffing of Asketens Enda Prydnad, the SOAD-like vocal changeups of Det Andra Liket, Fasa‘s complex buildup, and some closing turns – particularly in the closer – where sounds approach accessible rock moments.
Bergraven (…or Pär?) experimentation misses on occasion – the aforementioned Det Andra Liket bloats with its pacing changes, and the average 7+ minute runtime occasionally feels more perfunctory than necessary, but these are minor exceptions next to the many hits the album makes, with its deep, thumping production keeping you toe-tapping along with every shout and riff and double-bass drum jaw-dropping moment.