|Musical Style: Doom Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Transubstans||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website: Faith|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 50:19|
Faith is renowned as one of Sweden’s first doom metal bands. Founded in 1984 by Roger Johansson, vocalist and bassist Christer Nilsson and drummer Peter Svensson, the group – despite an ever revolving line up – recorded two demo tapes (Faith and Insanity) in addition to a two song single entitled Hymn Of The Sinner. After going on a seven year hiatus until 1995, Faith re-united to put together its third demo, In The 12th Hour, only to again be put on hold indefinitely. The winter of 2002, however, found Roger, Christer and Peter resurrect Faith once more, this time to record the bands 2003 full length debut Salvation Lies Within before following up two years later with Sorg and its latest offering from 2008, Blessed?.
Blessed? continues to find Faith heading in doom metal territory. But it is not just doom you will find here in that the group intermixes its “gloomy” sound with elements of the epic, symphonic and progressive- all the while joined with occasional touches of traditional folk music. Yes, an eclectic (and creative) mix but it works. Just check out the progressiveness characteristic to “Blessed Void Of Bewilderment” or, better yet, the technical sounds of the ingenious “Necropolis”. The catchy “Big Red, Nebraska” moves at the faster tempo while the melodically tinged “Twilight” proves every bit as gripping. “Condemned”, an upbeat number with an almost classic metal feel, stands in contrast to mid-tempo plodders “Father Pious” and “Never Got To Know”. Closing out the album is the plodding instrumental “Leipzigpolska”.
Christer Nilsson, with his course, mid-tempo sensibilities, brings a vocal style perfectly suited to the doom metal genre. Guitarist Roger Johansson is equally able, delivering just the right amount of weighty crunch on rhythm guitar while showcasing his adept soloing abilities throughout lengthy instrumental sections found on “Blessed Void Of Bewilderment”, “Big Red, Nebraska” and “Necropolis”. Nilson also fills in on bass and joins with drummer Peter Svensson to round out quite the stalwart rhythm section.
Production values fit the doom-based music here in combining an overriding low end with a more than ample amount of rhythm guitar.
While I might not describe Blessed? as an overtly Christian effort, its lyrics are of a positive and clean nature. The one song in which the band makes the most pronounced statement of faith – no pun intended – is “Father Pious”, which features the following line: “You’re are Father /And bless us in our ways/Give us comfort/Though we cannot see You’re face.”
“Blessed Void Of Bewilderment” might not be the albums catchiest piece but it certainly delivers a wallop. Slowly trudging ahead from the start, the song gradually maneuvers through its verse portions with the rhythm guitar pulsating in and out of the mix. Evening out, “Blessed Void Of Bewilderment” makes an even transition to a weighty chorus every bit as powerful as it is uncompromising. This one represents epic doom at its finest.
“Big Red, Nebraska” brings the more notable melody. Moving at the faster tempo in comparison to “Blessed Void Of Bewilderment”, the song stands out with its catchy chorus (highlighted by an outlying hint of keyboards) and lengthy instrumental section allowing Johansson to showcase his abilities on lead guitar. Second doom masterpiece in a row.
“Polska efter Ida I Rye”, a short instrumental coming in at 2:23, is the first of several numbers to make use of a Swedish key fiddle- combining it with an ominous rhythm guitar.
“Necropolis” exudes a creative touch of the progressive. I always appreciate it when a band is willing to experiment and such is what we have here- a creative piece certain to challenge for song of the year. What puts “Necropolis” over the top is its unique time changes, drifting between slower, bass guitar driven passages sustained by Gregorian-style vocals and others on the more forceful side of things – the rhythm guitar kicks in hard and heavy – that continually repeat the phrase:
Welcome to the sea of the dead
Our journey’s end
Interesting. Another strong quality to “Necropolis” is its instrumental portion, shored up by more of Johansson’s well orchestrated lead work.
“Twilight” can best be described as a song of contrasts. The song advances through its caustic verse portions with a touch of distortion added to Nilsson’s vocals, not gaining initiative until just prior to a melodic based chorus that finds him smoothing out his vocal delivery. The Swedish key fiddle makes a return appearance for the instrumental portion closing out the final minute and a half to “Twilight”.
“Condemned”, the albums shortest vocal piece at just under four minutes, is also one of its most upbeat. Standing out with its classic metal flavorings, the song rushes ahead to a forwardly placed rhythm guitar only to break out in raucous fashion for a bellicose chorus driven by harsh sounding backing vocals. Terrific driving riff upholding this one from start to finish.
Eerie keyboards help to create a haunting atmosphere throughout the instrumental opening to “Father Pious”. Tapering to a near standstill for its first verse, the song gradually crawls ahead until obtaining an unwavering chorus in which a decisive rhythm guitar makes its presence felt. I enjoy the emotion put forth by “Father Pious”, reflected in, as previously stated, its forthright lyrical direction.
“Never Got To Know”, as heavy duty a doom epic as you will find, gradually fades in before a portent wall of rhythm guitar takes over. The song proceeds to drive forward in a clinching manner with an occasional piano touching up the backdrop, decelerating further for a chorus holding up under the weight of its bottom heavy feel. One of the highlights to “Never Got To Know” is how its instrumental section abruptly halts for a short stretch of piano.
“Leipzigpolska” is the better – and lengthier – of the albums two instrumental pieces. Similar to “Polska efter Ida i Rye”, the song is sustained its length by a blend of rhythm guitar and Swedish key fiddle. Musically, while it proves a solid piece, I cannot help but think a bit of lead guitar might have helped break up what at times can be an atmosphere bordering on the overriding.
Faith have put together in Blessed? another quality piece of doom metal. The songwriting is up to standards while the same can be said for the production. Lead vocals are suited for the musical direction taken here. The only constructive comment is that the group plays up the use of the Swedish key fiddle a bit much- nothing that is a distraction but it is worth mentioning, nonetheless. All in all, fans of doom and other genres of metal would do themselves a favor by checking Blessed? out. Recommended.
Track Listing: “Blessed Void Of Bewilderment” (8:21), “Big Red, Nebraska” (4:52), “Polska efter Ida I Rye” (2:23), “Necropolis” (6:22), “Twilight” (6:08), “Condemned” (3:56), “Father Pious” (6:15), “Never Got To Know” (5:57), “Leipzigpolska” (6:05)
Roger Johansson – Guitars
Christer Nilsson – Lead Vocals & Bass
Peter Svensson – Drums
Hakan Malmros – Violin
Anders Smedenmark – Swedish Key Fiddle
Also Reviewed: Faith - Sorg