Thursday, January 20

(Sworn) - Demo



I'm consistently surprised by the promos that I receive, and this demo is no exception. (Sworn) is a progressive metal band from France that is definitely eccentric and singular in sound. They've quite obviously got some influence from bands like Opeth and maybe even Anathema, but have crafted with their demo a very unique album that displays a great deal of creativity and forward momentum.

(Sworn) tends to play a fairly slow variety of progressive metal that often drifts back and forth between soft acoustic sections and blistering double bass passages. Of the four songs featured here, only “Silent” falls under nine minutes. As you might imagine, this means that there's over half an hour of space to fill. You may then wonder if the band is able to fill this with enough interesting ideas and riffs to be worth your time. The answer is difficult but most generally yes.

Personally, (Sworn)'s demo is a bit too obtusely proggy for my taste. There are a number of interesting ideas, but they aren't fully explored before the band moves on. Do not take this in a negative fashion, because this was actually an extremely interesting listen for me, and these fellows obviously have a fair amount of talent. However, they sometimes lean a bit too far in the experimental direction. If you listen to the final song “Space”, there is a sizeable interlude that lasts for a couple of minutes which is comprised of scant drum beats, occasional guitar notes and chords, and a deep groan that repeats itself and gradually grows into hollow laughter. Yes, it is disconcerting and fits the title well, but it's easy to get lost and bored during this song.

Other than this, the songs are exploratory and certainly not redundant. What may feel like a lack of direction at times will be interpreted by those more geared towards this type of music as an experiment of musical and lyrical concepts. The vocalist adds to this feeling with his slightly gravelly voice which groans, weeps, moans, growls, and sighs its way through the four tracks in an extremely unorthodox fashion. (Sworn) certainly come off as an art-metal band in at least some small way because of their treatment of song structures and tonality. The album art looks like a watercolor splash, and is just like the music inside: deliberately vague and intriguing to the listener.

There's little wrong with (Sworn)'s debut demo, and while I didn't gain the sort of enjoyment that I do with some music, it has been one of the most deep and thick (while often remaining surprisingly simple instrumentally) listens that I've recently had the pleasure of enjoying. I recommend this, on the assumption that you're a fan of the bands that I've mentioned or other more unconventional progressive metal.

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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.0 out of 10

Please check out the band's Myspace page.


Andrew said...

I listened to a couple of songs on the band's Myspace page you linked us to, and I think that it's perhaps a bit too orthodox for my tastes; the pseudo-Gothenburg riffs are all too worn out thesedays and I found the songs to wander quite bit, without much direction (though, in Sworn's defense, this is something to be exhibited by young bands often), which is one of my biggest complaints when it comes to most modern, "progressive" music: the performance exceeds the purpose.

Which era of Anathema are you referring to in your review? ... I can't hear the influence. :/ Nevertheless, it's nice to see you review something outside of the usual power metal realm.

The Protagonist said...

I guess my comparison to Anathema just came with some of the feel, not anything in particular. I actually found it quite strange and wandering. It was interesting to review these last couple of prog albums, and I may keep it up and delve elsewhere. Someone's got to counteract the black metal broodiness. :D

Andrew said...

They don't hold a candle to anything Anathema has done, nor do they display any tendencies near Anathema's progressive, evolving nature; I'll take my (creative) black metal broodiness over this. :P