When there's five years between releases (the debut-album 'Zenith' was released in 2010) I can imagine a variety of reasons. Maybe the band members are too active in other projects? True, Erik Nilsson is also a member of Aoria and Jakob Berglund produces visual art for a variety of bands and projects. Maybe the musicians are perfectionists? Well, possibly. The Rifts, an album that was created from several piano pieces and song titles, shows a lot of talent and a lot of work.
Or would members not be in a mood to make music for a while? Judging from the overall sound of The Rifts, it might be true. It has become a very dark and disturbing album.
All possible reasons aside, it took A Swarm Of The Sun almost five years to write and record The Rifts. Yet this album has the potential to put this band on the foreground of this year's post-rock and shoegaze assault. With contributions from a number of artists like Anders Carlström (The Isolation Process), Karl Daniel Lidén, Anna Carlsson, Minna Heimo and Robin Bergh (Aoria) the Swedes have released a stunning album. The duo is mostly regarded as a post-rock act but it seems that they have decided to extend their universe. The overall feeling tends towards the shoegaze of Jesus And The Mary Chain (it doesn't always have to be Slowdive, right?) but also to the dark metal which made bands like Anathema and Katatonia famous.
The Rifts starts with the beautiful piano-driven track 'There's Blood On Your Hands'. It's almost an ambient piece, calm and soothing. 'Infants' follows its example, but only for a short while. It links the first track with the heavy songs on the album when the distortion pedal is set to action. From there it gets heavier and darker by the minute, creating an overwhelming sound that combines the best of post-rock with the best of doom metal. It's clear that The Rifts is a very emotional journey through the afflicted souls of this duo. The heavy doom sound continues with 'Incarceration', a song that nudges towards sludge metal but incorporates some of the best vocal passages I've heard in a while.
With The Rifts, A Swarm Of The Sun managed to create an album that has the same quality, intensity and atmosphere as projects like Jesu or Nadja. Every detail is meticulously put into place and avails in delivering wave after wave of listening pleasure. On 'Years' the listener gets one final breather before the title track (and followers) completely drag you with them. This track even has a martial folk touch (like Triarii or Arditi for instance), mainly because of the percussion used. Awesomeness. Maybe because of that 'The Rifts' is my favorite track on the album. But none of the other tracks is inferior, on the contrary. It makes this one of the most varied post-rock/shoegaze albums I've ever heard.
Like the album itself, I'd like to end this review with 'All The Love And Glory'. Personally, I'm completely stunned by this epic effort. I liked their first album but The Rifts exceeds every expectation. It has already become one of the highlights of this year. This duo deserves all the love and glory coming to them. Every single fan of decent post-rock, shoegaze, doom or dark, gloomy rock music should get their hands on either a (2-)LP, a CD or a digital download version of this album. I'm going to stop gloryfying A Swarm Of The Sun now and enjoy the album for a few more times...