CARVED IN STONE is the solo project of Swawa, a German lead singer who had played in several different Metal bands before joining her current Viking Metal band Taunusheim, where she´s doing backing vocals, keyboards and flutes.
After the great success of her previous releases “The Forgotten Belief” (2002), “Hear the Voice” (2004) and “Tales of Glory & Tragedy” (2007) the fourth album of Carved In Stone has been released after a break of 14 years. Produced again by Schwarzdorn Productions and again framed by the great booklet artwork of Medienproduktion Kuntz, the result is Wafts of Mist & The Forgotten Belief, a collection of new songs as well as a re-release of the original recordings from the debut mini-album, which had been limited to 500 pieces and now is made available for all to hear.
These albums are something of a conundrum – completely different and separate from her Metal excursions. Singer Swawa presents another fascinating collection of mystic folk and singer-songwriter ballads and tales, as well as very personal songs, surrounded by the atmospheric sound of acoustic instruments and epic choirs.
For the first time in the project’s history, there is also a music video for the song “The Moth and the Star” – see below.
As I said , this isn’t a new album as such, it’s more like a compilation of two mini-albums – the first seven tracks being recorded in 2021, whilst the last six tracks date from the project’s debut in 2002. The style throughout is consistent however, being essentially acoustic folk based around guitar, flute and Swawa’s dreamy voice, albeit her vocals are understandably now more confident and richer, more expansive, on the new material. Altogether, it works as a single entity, like a theme come full circle, representing the birth and continuation of the project.
The ambience of Carved In Stone is typified by the opener track Night, it’s gentle pastoral folk, seemingly designed to lull you into an old-school world of lullabies, myth and fantasy. Sparse arrangements featuring simplistic guitar work, occasional flute and not much more – this could be early 70’s Martin Carthy material – and I still cant get my head around Swawa’s desire/need to yo-yo between Metal and this!
2. The Moth and the Star
5. It is me
7. To Fantasy, mother of dreams
8. Die zwei Raben
9. Longing for Home
10. Nächtlicher Tanz
11. The Forgotten Belief
13. Im Saal voller Licht
But don’t get me wrong, these songs are soporific, hypnotising, calming (as far as my reading of the lyrics goes, anyway, given some are in German), Swawa evokes this feeling through her pleasant and mystical voice. There is a magic and expressive ambience to Carved In Stone which relies on Swawa’s voice. So in that sense you play the record and simply let the voice and simple guitar wash over you…and maybe that’s the problem, there is a sameness across this song-set that is either mesmeric or a tad frustrating, depending on your view. Several of the songs seem to use the same basic chord progression, again this has its strengths and weaknesses.
It does mean that the album flows along very pleasantly with producing any real highlights, the album as a whole isn’t her best because it simply lacks any real highlights. Compare this with something like Carolanne Peg’s albums from the 70’s, and you’ll see what’s missing.