June 18, 2024

Sweden has always been prolific on the melodic black and death metal front, and Kvaen is another example of the talent this country has to offer in extreme metal. Jacob Björnfot, the creative mastermind behind the band(named after the folk who populated the area in the Viking era), has already released two solid albums in 2020 and 2022, with The Formless Fires being the first for Metal Blade Records. Once again, Jacob has been responsible for the recording of all instruments except the drums, which were done by the amazing Fredrik Andersson (A Canorous Quintet, Vananidr, ex-Amon Amarth, ex-Netherbird).

The album starts with the title track, which is exemplary of Kvaen’s style – melodic black/ death, with a stronger emphasis put on the black, with tremolo guitar melodies and overall faster tempos than in the previous album. The production is stellar, which is evident in a song like Tornets Sång, displaying a more epic sound palette, with a choral, orchestral accent in the chorus and Jacob’s trademark melodic guitar solos and harmonies. Traverse The Nether (with a guest appearance by Necrophobic’s Sebastian Ramstedt) and Basilisk are both melodic black metal masterpieces, fast in tempo and rich in melody and atmosphere, while The Ancient Gods manages to invoke the spirit of classic Dissection (ancient extreme metal gods indeed!).

De Dödas Sång dials back the tempo a bit in the verses, still impressing with fantastic melodies and guitar solos, never relying on a tested black metal formula, but ever expanding the sound and vision of Kvaen. I can put hand on heart and say that this band will be the next big thing in extreme music, just because Jacob Björnfot has already proven how broad and bold an approach he has in just three albums and it is obvious he still has so much more to say musically. The Perpetual Darkness is a slower and more hypnotic track, which leads us to the epic masterpiece The Wings Of Death, where Chaq Mol (Dark Funeral) lends a solo. The Formless Fires is easily the most impressive black metal I’ve heard so far in 2024 and I bet you will feel the same after just a few spins. Talent should be encouraged and when it comes in spades like in Kvaen’s case, it is now your turn to reward it.

9/10  


Kvaen in Facebook

The Formless Fires will be out next Friday via Metal Blade Records and you can order it HERE