Salva is basically Swedish multi-instrumentalist Per Malmberg (vocals, guitars, keyboards, mandolin, accordion, percussion) who on this CD gets help from his friends Johan Lindqvist (keyboards), Stefan Gavik (guitars), Fredrik Lindqvist (bass) and Erik Zetterlund (drums, percussion). This is their fourth album, after A Handful Of Earth (2004), Left To Burn (2007) and Thirst (2011), but I had never heard of them before. Another new name - I love that, discovering new music!
The over 15 minutes long title track opens with piano, calm wind instruments and strings (probably from a synth) and then explodes with symphonic metal that would fit Within Temptation. The music then alternates folky and classical parts with heavy parts. Around 8 minutes into the piece, we get some massive keys that remind me of Yes, immediately followed by some wonderful widdly-widdly keys. Ah, I just love those! In the second half, the folk influences take a decidedly Mediterranean flair and are again alternated by some hefty progressive/symphonic metal. Great starter. Elite 'treats' us to some snotty, slightly growling singing that surely is different from many progmetal bands (well, maybe they sound this way when they are drunk during rehearsals). The music isn't too unlike other progmetal bands, except for the Orientally flavoured acoustic instruments that sound as if they are recorded at a Turkish bazaar. Musically interesting, but vocally a bit of a let-down. Around 2:30, however, we have a part that sounds like it's an outtake from an Ayreon album. Cool!
Gone II is one of my favourites. It starts rhythmic and pulsating upbeat with a nice synth bit before leading in the rather catchy vocal section that is based on acoustic guitars. Some clear Ayreon references here too. And again some great widdly keys and roaring organ. Great piece. Check it out. On Wings, the lead singer from Metallica (in restrained mode, mind you) seems to guest. This pulls the piece down a bit, I think, and the chorus is rather corny. But Salva does make up for it with a soaring finale in best Pink Floyd style that brings best of the best from The Wall. Queuetopia may raise a few eyebrows- what is this (and I don't mean the title)? Modern rhythms and synths? Then Salva blends in gothic/symphonic metal like the more recent releases from Within Temptation and similar bands like Lacuna Coil - only with male vocals. The chorus reminds once more of Ayreon. The closing epic Closed Casket is another highlight with a chorus that pleasantly reminds me of some 1990s neo prog group, but I just can't put my finger on it. Anyway, it's a great piece with nice alternations of tempo and mood with again delicious keyboard work.
As a whole a really enjoyable album. I hope next time they are a bit more cautious about the use of certain vocal styles while making music of the same quality.
***+ Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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