I absolutely adored this Swedish acts EP “Rekviem” in 2019, it was submerged in a 70s nostalgia that few bands can replicate today but was still heavy enough to be called metal, and as we get the second album that persona continues with “Gravitas” where the usual straight up rock/metal songs are balanced by two monumental epics towards the end of the release, effectively splitting the album into two halves so to speak as main guy Mattias Reinholdsson suggests in the promo information, which is absolutely correct.
Like previous output the album melds a dizzying array of styles into a seamless album that offers tranquillity and bristling abrasiveness coupled to sublime melodies and some fabulous vocal arrangements. “Black Tongue Tar” has an opening that is drenched in emotion as the song escalates sequentially with increasing power, utilising adjoining hooks and melodies right to the point where the sultry vocals push in. Again that 70s vibe is rife but like previously the band injects progressive leanings with cohesive adroitness. “Iscariot’s Dream” is excellent with a denser melody that kindles images of Thin Lizzy with harmonic like guitar work as the songs soporific catchiness subliminally hooks you in. Increasing the density and slightly harsher is “Vanitatis Profeta” with its heavier and slightly more morose tone. There is an air of menace here too that hints at the bands heavier side of course but also advocates the bands innate ability to venture into more experimental territory but still embedded by those wonderful vocals of Pelle Gustafsson. As the song progresses it diverts into a serenity that is transfixing and dreamlike with tuneful guitar work and very cool bass riff by Mattias that leads into the dancing lead breaks that finale the tune. The first half of the release ends with “The Spirit Divide” that offers a more upbeat rock aura complemented by fine drum work injected every song with its own level of ingenuity as the Iron Maiden like guitar work bristles with energy.
Like putting on side 2 or B of a vinyl this second phase of the album is far more progressive offering a ream of traits to completely submerse yourself within as it begins with “Hell / Heaven”. The genteel opening of acoustic guitar and soft vocals is hedonistic, allowing you to wallow in serenity before the guitar melody strikes up a despondent chord. Those progressive touches lie within the arrangements as I don’t mean prog like acts such as Yes or maybe Rush (R.I.P. Neil Peart), etc but more akin to how the song continually morphs with each passing minute with differing melodies and moods. The song gradually intensifies towards the transcendent guitar work where the sombreness of the riffs is linked to intrinsic power producing wonderful lead work that is heart-wrenching. Bridging the gap between the final epic closer is the short acoustic title track that serves to tie the songs together without loss of momentum or atmosphere. “Dead Kosmonaut” closes the album in two parts which begins with a folk or even pagan like vocal exertion that possesses a church like quality in tone before the second part bursts into life with a church organ backing making the song very unique. The slower style is doom like where the bass riff sets up a foundation for the church organ to weave into the song with the soaring vocals. The solemnity here is woe stricken but strangely heartening which I guess is oxymoronic but when you listen to the song you’ll know exactly what I mean. Again like “Hell / Heaven” the song builds on successive steps, swelling the song with each passing moment with palpable emotion especially vocally where Pelle really excels here. As expected the song delivers a beautiful lead break that sharpens the sound that reminded me very much of Gary Moore’s style. The brief increase in density is backed up by distorted guitar work before the church organ reappears to reinforce the texture and depth where choral vocals also add their own level of charisma producing a fascinating and wholly ambitious composition.
Continuing and expanding where “Rekviem” left off Dead Kosmonaut continue to construct songs of tangible emotion, dripping with technical dexterity but balanced by exquisite and formidable passion.
(9/10 Martin Harris)