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The Formless Fires

Sweden Country of Origin: Sweden

1. The Formless Fires
2. Traverse The Nether
3. Tornets Sång
4. The Ancient Gods
5. Basilisk
6. De Dödas Sång
7. The Perpetual Darkness
8. The Wings Of Death

Review by Michael on June 29, 2024.

The Formless Fires is the third full-length album by Swedish Kvaen. The bar was set pretty high for this one since the guys around ex-The Duskfall guitarist Jacob Björnfot have released two really exciting albums with The Funeral Pyre and The Great Below. And of course these two albums weren't left unnoticed in the scene so Kvaen got a contract with Metal Blade Records for the new album.

Musically there wasn't much change much though. The opener is pretty harsh black metal, furious and super fast but with the typical melodies that are known from Kvaen already. Sometimes Jacob tends to go into full-speed with songs like the title track or 'Basilisk' which is kind of brutal death metal song wrapped in some blackish tunes and they are for sure good ones to enjoy. Especially when you focus on the guitar work you will be quite often left with an open mouth in front of your stereo. I mean, just check the super duper melodic solo in 'The Basilisk'.

What I personally prefer are the mid-tempo crushers like 'De Dödas Sång' which is peppered with a lot of really melancholic melodies and is full of Dissection-worship. 'De Dödas Sång' comes along like a battle horse that runs towards you without any remorse and even though you see it coming you cannot get out of its way. It is just a track that rams you down with all the things happening in there. Melodies, harshness, tons of epic heaviness. Or 'The Perpetual Darkness' – this one reminds me so much of the Swedish melodic black metal bands back from the 90s like The Moaning or Dawn only the production is up-to-date.

On 'Traverse The Nether' Sebastian Ramstedt from Necrophobic once again has a guest appearance and this one also tends to go to full-speed. The leads are quite typical for Jacobs songwriting, nevertheless there is some more drama in the song because of the climax and tension in the compositional structure that gets build up here. Again, here is so much happening that it is hard to put it into words.

Closing the album with 'The Wings Of Death' I thought that this would turn out into some ultra evil black metal worship for bands like Degial (guess, I had their ugly and stinking debut album “Death's Striking Wings” in mind) but out came a very atmospheric song which is probably the most melodic one on The Formless Fires. Interrupted by some rough and pummeling drumming the atmosphere could be described as a mixture between Viking-era Bathory and some traditional heavy metal bands, only painted black (forgive me the little pun here).

To sum up my bla bla a little bit to tighten it some more – The Formless Fires has become another really great album by Kvaen which doesn't focus on the folk aspect anymore and also, the very fast and uncompromising songs were spared out in favor of some more atmospheric songs. I wouldn't say that they turned out to have a higher quality in the case of songwriting because the previous two albums were already top notch but I would state that The Formless Fires show some more skills when it comes to broader compositions and a higher diversity.

Rating: 9.4 out of 10