Supergroups, as a concept, always intrigued me. When talented musicians from well-respected, established bands get together to create something new, it’s always an invigorating feeling. In practice, however, it rarely happens. The music released ends up being a sum of all its collective parts. Norway’s Savn have risen from such ashes, just in time for Easter! Formed by former The Sins of Thy Beloved members Stig Johansen (multi-instrumentalist/growls) and Anders Thue (keyboards), they’re rounded out by Midnattsol vocalist Carmen Elise Espenæs, and together they joined forces to… put out another gothic metal album that sounds like every other gothic metal album out there [The technical term for this genre is “hot goth babe rock – Steel “King Leer” Druhm].
As soon as “Musical Silence” (yes, that’s really the title) kicks in, you know what to expect: keyboard-heavy melodies, lightly-chugging guitars, basic drumming, an admittedly beautiful violin melody, and Espenæs’s heavily accented singing. Her voice is pleasant enough when she’s not trying to aim high, in which she becomes blended in with the other instruments (more on that later). Sadly, her voice lacks the necessary power to make her presence felt. While it’s not a bad song, it’s just not overly memorable, save for that violin. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the desired focal point of this song was, but there you go.
I could just tell you to copy-and-paste the preceding paragraph for the rest of the album, but I don’t like to cheat or understate just how safe this album is. “Hang On” is more predictable chug with the keyboards way high in the mix. “The Demons In Me” has a guest appearance by End of Green‘s Michelle Darkness, whose warbly voice did little to bring anything interesting to the song. “I Am Free” features Carmen’s well-known sister, Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes), and some out-of-place growls. “Lengselens Hånd” is sung in Norwegian. All of it is predictable, unoriginal, and most damning of all, safe. You can tell when the double bass of the drums will kick in, when the keyboards will go into overdrive, and where the guitar solos will take you (hint: there are none on this whole record). There’s also two bonus tracks which are “growling versions” (yes, really) of “The Demons In Me” and “Hang On.” Because you specifically asked for those.
And again, keeping it in the family, Carmen’s brother-in-law Alexander Krull (Atrocity, Leaves’ Eyes) produced the album, and it’s squashed as all get-out. Guitars are barely audible (not that it matters much, as they’re all straight chords with little variance), some of the stringed instruments are buried, and Carmen is drowning within the keyboards [Cool band name right there – Steel Druhm]. The biggest problem is that there should have been more variance in the actual music, as it feels like one long, pleasant, inoffensive song. On first listen, that can be okay, but after that, you become bored.
Again, a supergroup with some gothic pedigree have delivered an album that does little to differentiate itself among the sea of corset-and-ren-faire-clad imitators. One added bit of hilarity: according to their bio page, “Savn is unique, not simply following trends.” That’s not what these ears hear.