GREVE – Föllo af Svavel, Lifvets Dimridå (2022)REVIEW

A veil of ancient sulfurous scald peels the entity of all abstruse and corporeal elements back to constituent æther ‘cept its carbonized skeletal state, wherein Swedish black metal trio Greve rescind, rewrite, and reaffirm their pact with tradition to better suit their own nightsky glaring ambitions on this guts-to-chest boiling stream of a second wind, a stirringly sped melodic rant of a sophomore album set years beyond its predecessor yet fixed in imploding spirit all the same. ‘Föllo af Svavel, Lifvets Dimridå‘ is the endless plane commanded through dream-like state of mind, passionate hurls of physical force which find no resistance, persisting in their attack ’til dizzied by the typhon force created. It is in these Sisyphean throes of motion and boggling statement that value develops for the listener, an arcane transfixion which centers the mind just enough that it may wander where it pleases, ‘sorceled as the storm-eye’s surreal interior.

Formed outside of any notable timeline but presented to the public in 2019 Greve is part of the greater fixation of Swedish black metal artist Swartadauþuz (Ancient Records, Mysticism Productions, Azelisassath, Trolldom, Musmahhu et. al.) where his knack for classic black metal ethos and its thousand-armed venues of atmosphere, style and subject has thrived in exploration since at least the early 2000’s. As you’ll find in exploration of the fellow’s output, his work is prolific and ‘traditional’ in most aspects, focusing upon elaboration of classicist values without being hindered into entirely predictable corners by them. In terms of this project we find pieces written as early as 2004 ’til today finding their state of completion via modern recordings and performances, not necessarily pulled from archived recordings but written at various times and purposed for the album at hand. For this reason the first major note to take is that this album is in the same spirit but quite different than its predecessor.

From what I’ve gathered Greve was initially a collaboration between Lik (Svartrit) and Swartadauþuz, whom had done fine work together in development of Bekëth Nexëhmü‘s early voice, with the vocalist/lyricist improvising to some impressive degree on certain demos and penning lyrics which have been used for various other projects. Much of that unrefined magick found transference in the early works from Greve which appeared to be more of a ‘symphonic’ black metal notion in practice, pieces which I assume were written and planned in a streak of productivity for various projects and released when they were next in line. The atmospheric ghastliness found on Greve‘s first 7″ EP ‘Nidingsdåd utav det Uråldriga‘ (2019) and the star-swallowing consumption of their debut full-length ‘Nordarikets Strid‘ (2019) certainly benefitted from the vocalist’s eccentric work, creating a sound which I’d otherwise compared to the realms of Odium, Noctes, and certain records from Limbonic Art and Abigor admittedly for the sake of their ethereal choices of keyboard/synth which was prominent but not outright “symphonic” and choral per much of the late 90’s/early 2000’s hangers-on; In this sense I’d considered Greve a stab towards classic Scandinavian atmospheric black metal sounds, harkening to a time before that tag meant something else entirely to the general public and before too-clear lines were drawn between Norse and Svensk fingerprinting.

Föllo afv Svavel, Lifvets Dimridå‘ arrives with similar mindset and still fits within these general mid-90’s borne wavelengths but comes with new performers, differently placed keyboard/synth tones, and entirely revised pacing for the sake of more directive lead guitar work. Its romanticist spiritus and frantic movement suggest a direct stray towards the bombast and bluster of later 90’s black metal at its most invigorated point — melodious and galloping forth eternally yet not entirely exploited of its cold early 90’s conviction. New vocalist Korgath is entirely different in style than Lik and this means the down-pitched monstre gasps and goblin snarls of ‘Nordarikets Strid‘ are gone and this new performer is perhaps more suited to the compressed powering of a group like Sacramentum where the steady-flowing melodious clamor of this album is well-suited by this style, distant and contained but still very much a mayhemic, biting presence. Likewise the addition of drummer Juhos helps to make this transition that much more impressive, a technical yet violent performance which kicks in just the right mid-chest point in the mix with enough reverb that the icy demeanor and high dramatism of slower moments, such as the fills nearby the end of “Åska i Himmlavalvets Förljugna”, land with an immediate resonance of ’96 melodic black metal. In fact I don’t think it’d be too outrageous to suggest this album has more in common with ‘Far Away From the Sun‘ in terms of sound design rather than the expressly symphonic tag Greve were given when their first record released, keyboards are yet an important aspect here but the guitar and drum work are what’ll grip the skull foremost.

Stellarly tremolo-picked flows, dusk-riddled keys and mind-snaring sound design amount to an inspired sound here yet you’re not getting “catchy” pieces from Greve just yet, this album persists as an object in a frozen state, creatively directed with high speed angles and dramatic perspective churn throughout yet the listener could rightfully pick any one moment and, if they were not satisfied, then the lot of the full listen might land just the same (or, samey) if not immediately convinced at face value. The best rhythm guitar melodies herein are subtle, often slowly developed, and rarely feature overtly complex interplay yet their general arcing nature creates motion of value beyond the thrill of speed and righteous timbre. Naturally, the title track (“Föllo af Svavel, Lifvets Dimridå”) set at the middle of the record is a prime example of all rivers flowing together and making holistic sense yet their circuitous nature will be vexing unless studied, enjoyed, and allowed to simmer in bouts of repeat listening. The black metal adept will need fewer runs to grasp the impressive multi-arc’d reveal of these songs and their almost anxiously sped delivery yet there’ll be no real populist conclusion in the long run, you’re getting beauteous, sorrowful threads of meander rather than cinched-up rock songs and well, for my own taste this reads as a brilliant teetering on the edge, a wrathful limbo that expresses a certain fiery eternity throughout. Eh, with that said of course the final piece on the running order does slow and congeal into an emotional stir, “Mördade Stigar, Funnit i Mitt Grepp” is the album’s thesis compiled and extrapolated in a most rousing and tuneful concentrate that’d inspired many, many listens beyond expectation.

There are only highs sustained throughout the ~46 minute stride of ‘Föllo af Svavel, Lifvets Dimridå‘ it has been an experience set in the throes of a violent cosmic ritual, glorious to the eye from a certain perspective yet tumultuous and frighteningly intense the closer I’d step to the vortex presented. It is a sound which needs absolutely no tweaking to its already high standard, a sound that demands more works written within these brilliantly set parameters. How much attention paid ultimately determines the return for the listener beyond spectacular movement and dramatic tone — this’d ultimately been what pushed Greve‘s latest record to an above-average experience for my own taste. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (82/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Föllo afv Svavel, Lifvets Dimridå
LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire
RELEASE DATE:April 10th, 2022

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