It's getting to the point of redundancy talking about all the great new bands that are popping up out of the woodwork from Sweden in recent years, but we are going to do it yet again here with I Still Breathe, the debut from Mad Artwork. I'm hard pressed to even categorize this band, as they seamlessly combine elements of '70s hard rock, prog, folk, and heavy metal into a really exciting blend of styles that delivers on all fronts. Comprised of Andreas Berglund (drums & percussion), Daniel Dluzewski (bass, recorder & backing vocals), Gabbi Dluzewski (guitars, recorder & backing vocals), Simon Forsberg (swedish bosoki, acoustic guitar, banjo & backing vocals), and Terese Tezzi Persson (lead vocals), Mad Artwork take their love of classic Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Gryphon, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Rainbow, Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Led Zeppelin, throw in some more modern influences such as Pantera, Audioslave, Opeth, Metallica, and Pain of Salvation, plus add in some intriguing folk & classical bits for a truly wild ride.
Love heavy guitar riffs & shredding solos? Check. Can't get enough raging Hammond organ? Check. How about powerful female vocals? Check. Care for some folky, proggy violin, recorder, and Bouzouki? Check. What's not to love about the idea of all this variety? Well, nothing really. I Still Breathe is a fascinating listen from start to finish, four songs totaling over 40 minutes of epic sounds. Opener "See What There Is" grabs the listener with complex arrangements and clever vocal passages, the guitar & bass heavy yet the overall feel brings to mind classic prog, especially when the Gentle Giant-meets-Gryphon Hammond organ and acoustic instruments come into play. Guest Andreas Hellkvist is a revelation here on the Hammond, wailing away like a young Jon Lord or Ken Hensley, and Dluzewski's guitar solo is absolutely blistering. The haunting "Locked in a Lie" starts off as a gothic folk piece before crushing guitar riffs come into play, then giving way to quirky prog and more metal bashing, the vocals of Terese so powerful and soaring over the top of these crazy arrangements. With so many twists and turns, this is unlike anything you have ever heard. "The Magic Sun" again fluctuates between heavy rock and chilling folk, and the epic title track closes things out in majestic fashion, Terese screaming to the heavens during the crushing heavy sections, and lovely Hammond supporting Forsberg & Dluzewski's enchanting acoustic passages. Gotta love the booming bass from Daniel on this one as well, as his larger than life lines weave alongside the acrobatic drums of Berglund and wild synth blasts from Kjell Haraldsson. Toss in some somber recorder & violin melodies and you have an enchanting song that comes at you from so many different places. Just impressive stuff that is so different from what we normally hear that it's impossible to ignore.
I Still Breathe is a gargantuan debut from a band that is sure to make a big splash on the heavy rock & prog scene. Make sure you don't miss this one.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1) See What There Is
2) Locked in a Lie
3) The Magic Sun
4) I Still Breathe