Swedish Classic Rock act Prins Svart is probably one of the most productive and creative bands out there right now. Their self-titled debut album came out in 2018 and their brand new album is their fourth but what’s most impressing is that the quality of the music has been almost ridiculously high on every record so far. Ok, so the debut and the last album Under Jord only had seven songs and the second, Inte Här För Att Stanna, had eight but still it’s 22 songs and not one filler which in turn creates some major expectations now when the band releases their new album, a mastodon, 15-track, 76 minute effort. Also, the last album contained several different singers as Stefan Berggren left guitarist Henrik Bergqvist, bassist Tomas Thorberg and drummer Sebastian Sippola to their own devices. One of those singers, Mats Levén (Skyblood, Treat, Yngwie Malmsteen), is now the band’s new singer, something that felt only natural as he had been touring with the band ever since Berggren left.
The dark and ambient intro ”Ultra” starts the album and this short piece builds up an atmosphere for the title-track – ”Truth/Power” in English – and latest single to kick off the record. It’s a heavy and punchy tune, clearly Metal influenced with a Judas Priest vibe but it also holds on to the band’s Classic Rock ground with a Jimmy Page inspired riff. But we’re not done yet as the band brings on a proggy touch with a later day Opeth touch. It’s still a melodic track with tempo-changes and it alters between uptempo and heaviness and a slower pace with a more held-back arrangement which creates lots of dynamics. The chorus might be darker laden and heavy but it sticks pretty much right away. It’s a brilliant tune and I’m floored already by the first track.
Second track ”Är Det Bara Jag?” (Is It Just Me?) follows with a heavy rhythm and some Zeppelin meets Deep Purple riffage, more reminiscent of the band’s two first albums albeit with a darker twist. It’s a sparking track with an infectious groove, very much a 70’s look-back with a more straight ahead outlook on a solid beat. Not as intense as the opener, the tune rocks hard and holds another superb refrain that hits like a ton of bricks. How awesome! ”Innan Vi Går” (Before We Go) starts out raw and punchy but soon turns into a more down-beat, slow blues-rock number where parts holds a slight resemblance to The Beatles ”I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. The tune holds a saddening and gaunt atmosphere and some soulful playing by Berqqvist. It’s a melancholic, stripped and organic affair that gets under my skin – a phenomenal tune!
”De Odödliga” (The Immortal) is a straight forward and in-your-face Classic Rock stomper with a damn hooky main-melody – a striking, upbeat rocker that goes somewhat held-back in the solo-part. It’s an edgy and gritty tune with crunchy guitars and a punchy rhythm but the melodies also flirts with the mid 80’s, especially in the overly catchy chorus that knocked me down for the count by first listen. Amazing – and then some! ”Jeriko” (Jericho) brings on some addictive rhythms and grooves like crazy. It’s a quite muscular and ballsy Classic Rock belter with more mesmerizing melodies and a distinct and effective chorus that puts its hooks in you and refuses to let go. This must be a single because it’s a damn hit to be. Fantastic!
”Besvärjelse För Ett Annat Liv” (The Conjure For Another Life) brings the tempo up, goes in your face with a harder edge, some Metal riffing and a touch of Classic Rock, 70’s style on top. It’s a forceful, driving tune, heavy and concise and holds a big, fat refrain that’s a fist right on the jaw. This is high-class Hard Rock with a massive live-feel and it takes no prisoners. A real killer. Second single ”Vargtimmen” (Hour Of The Wolf) starts out stripped and down-beat with only vocals and acoustic guitar – very earthy. The rest of the band comes in and the song turns into a blues-laden Classic Rock ballad before it gets heavier and brings on some beefy riffing in the Zep school of Rock. There’s also a bit of a nod towards Purple’s ”Mistreated” in there without going clone one bit. The tune alters between the slower and the harder-edged Rock which brings out more dynamics. Fan-bloody-tastic!
Leading single ”Speglar Och Dimma” (Smoke & Mirrors) is a real powerhouse – heavy, raunchy and metal-fused with razor-sharp riffing and a thunderous rhythm. While the grit and the ferocious outlook of the tune sure kicks up some dust, there’s also a melodic side to the song and the refrain is breathtakingly catchy – very distinct and direct. It’s a resplendent tune that should go down like a storm from the stage. ”Priset” (The Price) is slow and gloomy with a darkening edge, quite saturnine and melancholic and comes across like blending of Black Sabbath and Levén’s Skyblood album. Add a slight oriental touch in the melodies and a big soundscape within all its gloominess plus a memorable vocal arrangement and we have another winner. Phenomenal.
Next up, ”Bryt Ihop (Och Kom Igen)” (Break Down (And Get back Up)) kicks up a major groove like a Classic Rock party-rocker on a positive note with a crowd-pleasing vibe. The swing is infectious and so are the melodies with so many hooks I lost count. The chorus might just be the most spot-on and hit-friendly on the album without even coming close to a sugar-rush. What a KO! Absolutely brilliant. ”Vålnad” (Spirit) takes us back to the two first records again, on a slow and dark note. It’s a bit held-back and down-beat but not a ballad, more of a slow, bluesy Hard Rock number on a punchy and solid beat. The tune do get more intense and heavy with some raunchy and edgy guitars – a dynamic tune with two faces but it never sounds sprawling or confused. There are slight Sabbath touches as well with their 70’s in focus. The effective refrain hits bull’s-eye as well. Fantastic!
”Ge Mig Krutet” (Give Me The Gunpowder) kicks off with a raunchy vibe where a Zep-like riff blends with Black Sabbath’s ”Children of The Grave”. It’s a driven and rhythmic, quite straight ahead rocker, intense and in-your-face with a raw edge. The drumming is poundy yet groovy, the bass-lines are quite infectious, the guitars are rough and muscular and the vocal-melodies are addictive. It’s a damn memorable number with a striking hook and a direct catchiness. Great! ”Allt Du Ville Ha” (Everything You Wanted) is a powerful and dirty hard-rocker that adds a sleazy vibe with added 70’s Classic Rock and the huge refrain even flirts a bit with 80’s Melodic Rock. That said, it’s a firey and robust rocker that also holds a slower passage for dynamics sake. It’s memorable as hell and every melody catches on right from hello. Great stuff indeed.
Prins Svart’s magnum opus closes with the album’s magnum opus, if you will, a 12-minute epic mastodon called ”Brödraskapet” (The Brotherhood). The song contains lead vocals by Levén, Bergqvist and Thorberg with Sippola adding some spoken word in Finish. It starts out laid-back yet upbeat with a pumping bass and abstemious vocals. It gets heavier and punchy when the song’s title are chanted before the verse takes it back to the held-back start albeit in a slightly faster tempo. A quick solo-part comes on an upbeat rhythm and a melodic guitar-line that brings on a slight Rainbow vibe. It then takes on a heavier groove which takes on a down-beat acoustic passage before the Rainbow-like solo-part returns in a faster tempo. There’s also double guitar-melodies which touches Thin Lizzy. Before we go, the song goes into a slower pace, all heavy, gritty and dark. It’s a progressive tune, bombastic, powerful and vigorous with intensity and spark. Pure brilliance!
This, ladies and gents, is nothing but a damn masterpiece. To take on a mastodon project like this is a bold move which can go either way, flop or success, but not only do the band get away with it, they effing nail it all the way through. It’s the kind of record you can listen to carefully time and again and still discover new things and despite the length of the album, it never for one moment gets dull. Style-wise, it’s easy to hear that this is Prins Svart – they sport their own sound and identity but here they hold no barrels – throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. The Classic Rock is still the base but here they go progressive, throws in both Metal and poppier things and the whole soundscape is huge. With the huge production it’s quite impressive how they manage to keep the sound raw, organic, airy and dynamic at the same time. I can’t find one thing I’m not fond of here. Did I say masterpiece?