In recent times Scandinavia has established itself as the go-to place for heavy prog, and amongst the vanguard is Swedish instrumental behemoth Gösta Berlings Saga. A new album from this fine bunch of Viking renegades is always anticipated chez moi, for up to now they have never disappointed.
Sersophane continues the band’s tradition of delivering top quality instrumental heaviosity, this time with a joie de vivre and a spring in its hobnailed boots. The basic tracks were recorded live over two days, with the band creating dense repetitive walls of sound that relay a hypnotic quality in a similar manner to Magma, or to quote a nearer cousin musically, Guapo. If they are anything like those two in a live setting then a near religious experience awaits. I really need to find this out for myself, so, please get yourselves over to the U.K. so I and others with a similar ear for the heavy mantra may be enlightened.
Named after a late 19th Century Swedish novel, Gösta Berlings Saga are now up to their fourth album with Sersophane, a word that stands for hope for the future, and not giving in to pessimism, something that surely resonates in these divisive times. As the no doubt imperfectly Google Translated press release puts it “Sersophane represents the will not to resign ourselves passive pessimism – a beacon that spreads its light in the form of shimmering melodies and forward-looking hymns into unknown territory.” Imperfect that may be, but the gist is obvious and for a press release a rare example of pointing out the truth as opposed to laying on untrammeled hyperbole, as is normally the case.
Great albums demand an opening track that will grab you by the lapels and demand your attention, and Konstruction is that track with its marvellous rocking melody. By the time you get to album centrepiece Channeling the Sixth Extinction you will find you have been drawn into the Gösta world of deceptively simple thunderous Kraut rhythms mixed with that indefinable Scandi heavy prog air that makes for a high-quality whole played by a group that live in each other’s music with a natural ease. Tight as a nut and always thrilling, this is consummate musicianship on display, the live nature of the recording giving proceedings an extra frisson of excitement.
The epically filmic Fort Europa is the soundtrack to armies of isopods on the march, and they’re after your soul, but obviously the fulcrum of this album is the quarter-hour long accompaniment to the end of days, Channeling the Sixth Extinction. If this is what we hear when the narcissistic manchild goes ape one last time, then all I can say is, it could have been far, far worse. A developing musical tale of looming darkness, the heavy mantra wrought on hellish anvils will crush all before it. At the very least it will annoy the neighbours as their framed photos and twinkly trinkets fall off shelving to the thrumming thump of Gabriel Tapper’s insistent bass, propelled along by Alexander Skepp’s tribal tom toms, embellished by returning drummer Mattias Olsson’s percussive heft. All the while Einar Baldursson and David Lundberg do odd things with synths and guitars creating the perfect maelstrom as the planet burns. Lovely!
That’s more than enough from me. Check out the YouTube video above and the Bandcamp link below, and have your world righteously rocked. If this doesn’t float your boat, you live on a dull grey sea me hearty, and you need your horizons expanding!
01. Konstruction (2:59)
02. Sersophane (8:04)
03. Fort Europa (8:06)
04. Dekonstruction (3:33)
05. Channeling the Sixth Extinction (15:15)
06. Naturum (1:04)
Total Time – 39:05
Alexander Skepp – Drums, Percussion, Synthesizers
Einar Baldursson – Electric, Acoustic & Lap Steel Guitars
David Lundberg – Fender Rhodes, Synthesizers, Mellotron
Gabriel Tapper – Bass Guitar, Moog Taurus
Mattias Olsson – Additional Percussion (track 5)
Record Label: Icosahedron Music
Year of Release: 2016