Svölk – Nights Under The Round Table

September 6, 2012 in Reviews by Dagg

Svölk
Nights Under The Round Table
2012

Simply put, Svölk rocks. Last year, I was given the pleasure of reviewing a re-release of their debut album, titled Svölk Em All. Now in 2012, the band unleashes their second effort entitled Nights Under The Round Table. Svölk plays an entertaining brand of redneck inspired, heavy stoner rock. My previous review is mostly applicable for the basis of Nights Under The Round Table, but the style has developed a bit. It is certainly an improvement over Svölk Em All, though with a bit of a more serious tone.

The first and biggest attribute one notices with this album is the riffs. The first song, “Living By the Sword”, is a good mid-tempo cruncher with the added benefit of being rather catchy. The third song, “Painbringer”, is where the album really picks up steam though. The song features a deep and booming bass line, and solid guitar riffing throughout. It is still a mid-tempo song, and rather long at 6:17, but with one exception, all the songs on this record are over 5 minutes long. What I enjoy about the record, and this is especially true of “Painbringer”, is that the songs aren’t guilty of the traditional and rather boring practice of repeating the chorus a few times after the bridge. Svölk has begun to develop a talent for sending out their songs with a boom, rather than a whimper.

After “Painbringer” comes “Fallen”, which with the opening notes on bass, seems to be their tribute to the song “Black Sabbath”. It’s a great ‘slower’ song, and Knut Erik’s vocals are positively brilliant. His voice isn’t any different from the debut, but the songs are written much better for him on this record, and he’s using a more versatile approach in songs. In form with the original “Black Sabbath” song, “Fallen” picks up a nasty heavy edge near the end, ending on a great guitar solo.

The second half of the record, starting with “Twenty Four Twenty”, takes a more uptempo approach, similar to the songs from the debut that I really enjoyed like “Inferno”. Sadly, there’s nothing quite as blazingly fast as “Inferno”, but the record makes up for it with more diversity and maturity. “Twenty four Twenty” has some great gang-shouted chorus refrains, and again, it’s fairly catchy and memorable.

While the second half tends to be a bit quicker than the first half, it’s still largely an upper mid-tempo affair. “Bearserk” is a bit of a cringe-worthy song title, though it can’t touch my feelings on the last album’s title. The song also highlights some developing problems that could cause more trouble down the road. Manowar-like self reference is a fairly well accepted practice in the metal community, but usually when the band has their tongue planted firmly in cheek. It’s still there on Nights Under The Round Table, but it’s developing in a more serious direction, and the “bear metal” thing might feel a little played out if they get too serious.

My favorite song on the record however, is the closer “This Is Where It Ends”. It’s certainly the most uptempo track on the record, which seems to be a strong suit for the band (though the slowest song, “Fallen, is my second favorite track). The lead riff has the potential to be legendary with the right exposure. Similar also to “Painbringer” is that it enters a fairly long bridge section, and then comes out unloading a fully stocked arsenal of metal fury. The axiom to “save the best for last” has a lot of truth to it, and that shines through on Nights Under The Round Table. If your head isn’t banging to this, I’ll safely assume it’s because you damaged your neck from the 20 times you’ve already listened to this song on repeat. Drums, guitar, bass, and vocals, all at the absolute top form for Svölk’s style of music, and if the band continues to improve like this, I see a very bright future for them. Losing a bit of a playfulness of the debut is a little sad, and there aren’t quite as many standout tracks, but the band more than makes up for it by providing a more musically satisfying and diverse album.

Dagg’s rating: 4.0 out of 5