PICK OF THE WEEK: Bergraven put focus on memories, darkness on chilling ‘Det framlidna minnet’

Our memories are almost as much as part of us as our flesh and bones. From the first time we have an experience that makes an indelible mark on our brains and stays with us all our days to crucial things that have happened recently, they help guide and shape our paths through our lives, whether that’s for better or for worse.

That idea flows through “Det framlidna minnet,” the adventurous and long-awaited new album from Bergraven, one of the most creative and shape-shifting bands in all of metal. It’s been 10 long years since the band’s last record “Till Makabert Väsen” (its members put focus into their other band Stilla for that stretch), and in that time, this band hasn’t lost an ounce of their ingenuity. In fact, the foundations they laid on “Till” and their landmark second record “Dödsvisioner” remain, but they delve even further past their own boundaries into areas even more immersive in the minds. The album’s title translates to “The Deceased Memory,” and over the course of their eight-track, 54-minute record, the band runs the gamut of emotions and sounds, never smoothing the edges of their progressive black metal but always adding textures and colors far different than their past. The band—guitarist/vocalist Pär Stille, bassist Andreas Johansson, and drummer J. Marklund—brings deeper elements of the cosmos to this album, as well as some loungey, dreamy jazz that makes their barbs even sharper when they strike.

“Minnesgåva” is an introductory track built on psyche guitar wash, strangeness, and drums encircling, opening the gates for “Allt” with its guitars dripping color and strange feelings being spread generously. Stille’s growls echo and roar, while the pace kicks in and brings aggression, a thunderous but strange path is laid out before you, and then it hits a mind warp complete with jazzy atmosphere, hypnotic punches, and a tornadic end. “Den följsamma plågan” comes in with charring horns, a proggy push, and clean singing before the gas pedal is struck and things get warped. There’s a total switch-up into psychedelic chaos as the storms speed ahead, and the growls scrape pavement from the ground. That might make your head swim, and it’s not long until that vibe melts int a strange pool of keys and odd dreams. “Minnets melankoli” has cosmic riffs chewing away at muscle, the growls bringing menace, and keys swooping in with mystery. Classical guitar lines are buried underneath carnage, opening up into an imaginative world where colors turn into all-new shades. Out of that, the track regains its sinew and might, crunching away while the growls deliver pain and majesty all at once.

“Leendet av hans verk” starts with a sax smear that hangs in the air, then the piano drips, whispers flutter in, and acoustics provide a sturdy bed. The track then blasts open, bringing on speed and fury, while the growls strike hard, and the tempo keeps burning into another strange section. Acoustics return, while clean singing emerges, and from there, all the elements pile on top of each other. “Den dödes stigar” is spacious and full of wonder as it gets off the ground, as melodies and sleepy guitars merge before growls rupture the scene. The guitars explore as moody darkness spills in, trickling quietly and gently as it lifts into the stars. Melody then comes back in, sweeping and cascading before the track burns out. “Till priset av vårt liv” enters with horns squawking as elegant leads provide a foundation, and vicious growls run headlong into psychedelic keys. Cold guitars drizzle before the leads cut through and warm the ground as the dark, ominous clouds return. Guitars enthrall as grisly growls lay waste, and then things get even more imaginative as strings flow in, and slow, warbled cries slither to the finish. Outro cut “Eftermäle” returns to the brain-confounding strains that started the record, as drums crumble, hallucinogenic playing stings the psyche, and the track lands in a cloud of star dust.

One’s memories can be a warm friend or an enemy that continues to bog one down with misery, pain, and guilt, destroying one from the inside out. Bergraven travel all of that ground on “Det framlidna minnet,” a welcome return from a band who we’ve admired before this site ever existed. Whether basking in light or hiding in shadows, the music on this great record confronts life stories, as well as high and low points that either help us rise up or crumble to the ground in defeat.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Bergraven

To buy the album, go here: https://nordvis.com/en/bergraven-a-3

For more on the label, go here: https://www.nordvis.com/en/