Kvaen – The Formless Fires

3 min read

Band: Kvaen
Album: The Formless Fires
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release date: June 21, 2024
Country: Sweden
Format reviewed: High-quality digital recording

Since their formation in 2019, Sweden’s Kvaen has proved to be one of the best emerging black metal groups in recent years, due to their remarkable live performance, and trademark sound, laced with dark, stormy melodies. And nowhere is this sound better done, than on their latest effort, The Formless Fires. Although initially intended as the final album of the band, mastermind Jacob Bjornfot had a change of heart and created what it, in my opinion, the band’s best album to date. The effort put into this thing is more than astounding, thus the music ends up on a whole new level in terms of sheer sonic power. Heck, I can barely recall the last time an album blew me away to the extent this one did. I can guarantee that at the end of the year, it will be one of the most highly acclaimed releases of 2024, and that in itself says something. I could go on and on praising this album for much longer, but I’ll leave that aside and delve properly into the actual music. However, I have to mention that the cover artwork is nothing short of astounding, and I believe I’m not the only one who thinks that.

As I mentioned previously, the album is mostly based around fast, melodic riffs, that have a powerful stormy sound to them. At times, the epic passages are alternated with, ore melancholic ones, reflecting the dynamic between the numerous tempo changes. The vocals soar above the melodies, emphasizing the melodies embedded into the instrumentals. There are also guitar solos, which are scattered throughout the record, creating a new dimension of complexion. All these features are obvious even from the opening track, which also happens to be the title track for the album. Overall, a great way of opening this album.

Given all the attention to detail that can be noticed even at a superficial or first listen, it is important to mention the technicality of the instrumentation. Both the guitars and drums include intricate riffs and patterns, to the likes of the ones you’d notice in melodic death metal more commonly. However, the main influence that I can hear on this record is definitely that of Dissection. From the song structures to several compositional patterns on songs such as Traverse the Nether, Basilisk, and The Perpetual Darkness, the resemblance is impossible not to notice, albeit with a much more modern take from Kvaen. The drums include the previously mentioned tempo shifts, but the songs themselves vary greatly in terms of tempo, the album includes both fast and mid-tempo songs, offering a feeling of diversity and creativity. In general, I consider The Formless Fires to be an undoubtedly creative record, although It doesn’t necessarily go out of the black metal sphere. Quite the opposite, actually. The band experiments with all sorts of different elements brought into black metal by their predecessors, so they’re not as much thinking outside the box, rather than pushing and expanding the box.

Picking out a highlight track is a difficult endeavor, with all the songs sharing the highest quality, being recorded with maximum care and dedication. However, if I were to pick some standouts, those would be The Formless Fires, Traverse the Nether, and The Perpetual Darkness. All I can say is that I warmly recommend this album to every extreme metal fan out there, As I find it hard to express all that’s great about this particular album. Go listen to it, you won’t regret it! 9.5/10 Ioanna



9.5/10 Epic Storm
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