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Svann: Boundary Of Black & White

Do you remember the Polish band Abraxas? Well Svann is nothing like that. And you know what Goth-metal sounds like, right? Well Svann is nothing like that either! Yet Svann is a collaboration of the ex-members of Abraxas and a top female goth singer.

Ex-Closterkeller singer Anja Orthodox is one of the more charismatic people on today's music scene. She is something of a personality in Poland, a writer of controversial poetry, and besides a voice with incredible range her biggest strength lies in musical interpretation.  So no two Svann songs sound the same.

The album is called Granica Czerni I Bieli, which we understand means The Boundary Of Black And White. The vocals are entirely in Polish, which is a pity. Good production makes every word perfectly audible and although it all sounds very deep and emotional, we have no idea what it all means. Nevertheless if you can handle foreign-language prog and appreciate the voice as just one of the lead instruments, this album will be a real treat for you. Svann uses two female vocalists, and courtesy of Anja's tremendous vocal range the sounds vary from haunting goth to lilting celtic to urban rap (in Polish!) to an interesting Edith-Piaff-over-metal sound.

Granica Czerni I Bieli is neither metal nor goth yet it has element of both and fans of metal, goth and heavy progressive rock will appreciate it. The instrumentals are somewhere between heavy rock and light power metal heavy and crunchy in parts, yet also very varied. Besides the standard guitar / bass / drums trio there are 2 keyboardists, a flute, and a Chapman stick. Some passages sound almost new-agey, and would be at home on an piece by Enigma; while others border on heavy goth metal. The songs span the range from aggressive to ethereal, and excellent instrumentation supports each mood beautifully. This isn't the most complex music you'll hear, and it isn't essential or groundbreaking. But it's a lot of fun and you'll enjoy the textural richness, the great guitar work and the wonderful vocals.

Track 1 is "Telefon" and starts off with one of those really annoying cell phone rings. Then a deep, distorted guitar growls its way into the soundscape, and some spacey keys imitate the cell phone's tune. The female vocals come in and it's aggressive rap spoken in Polish, with soft, girlie backing vocals. The rap style ends after a while and the singing becomes angry, half-yelled, yet very melodic, over crunchy rock instrumentals.

"Znajde Cie" starts with a new-agey percussion loop, and the vocals are spacey, half-spoken half whispered, and sexy-sultry. Listen for the Flamenco guitar played off against an excellent lead guitar. Real drums augment that loop and take over after a while and that new age sound makes a gradual transition to solid goth rock. As with most songs on the album, there are some wonderfully melodic guitar solos toward the end of the track.

The 8-1/2 minute "Niedokonczony Wiersz" whatever that means is a standout. Like some of the other cuts it starts with a programmed pop loop, then a spacey high-pitched keyboard motif floats over bass pedals. Those ambient keys float for a while over the percussion loop then a strong sampled female chorus enters along with more down-to-earth drums and keys. The chorus follows a simple but attractive melody and gets stronger with each minute. The guitar solo comes in with about 3 minutes to go, and the guitar and the chorus build up into one of the strongest symphonic prog pieces we've heard in a long time. Simply awesome.

The biggest strength in this album is that no two songs sound the same, and that is what makes it so easy to listen to it again and again. Everything about it sounds similar to something you know yet nothing you know is quite the same as Granica Czerni I Bieli.


Track Listing:
1. Telefon (4:25)
2. Znajde cie (3:33)
3. Pan Cukierjan (5:48)
4. Granica czerni i bieli (7:01)
5. Papapa (4:07)
6. Dotyk nocy (6:50)
7. Ksiezycowy (8:21)
8. Ksiaze (5:46)
9. Dziecko mroku (6:24)
10.Dzis kazdy moze byc idolem (3:37)
11.Niedokonczony wiersz (8:24)


Added: April 22nd 2008
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1920
Language: english

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