Burning Saviours - Death

Burning Saviours Death cover
Burning Saviours
Transubstans Records
It’d been a while since I graced my ears with Burning Saviours’ diabolically languishing brand of floaty, stretchy doom highly evocative of a fog covered and haunted English moor. Therefore, I warmly received the Örebro, Sweden based quintet’s latest and fifth full-length, “Death”, released in March on CD via Transubstans Records. Oddly enough, unlike their fellow rambunctious Swedes, RAM, with its similarly named release, the rather pedestrian title behoves eight ominous yet melodiously refreshing tracks which average a congenial four minutes, while bringing to mind a compelling blend of classic influences ranging from the upbeat and bluesy Pentagram (the band actually drew its moniker from “Burning Saviour”) and Witchcraft to the more brooding Cathedral and Penance. Subtle touches of Witchfinder General’s doom-y side can readily be gleaned as well, notably on the title track, where the band’s grand Inquisitor/guitarist, Mikael Monks, forebodingly elicits Zeeb Parkes’ memorable eerie groove and stoic anguish from golden oldies such as “Rabies” or “R.I.P”.
Although compared to previous releases such as “Hundus” or “Nymphs & Weavers”, as well as relative to the band’s standards, “Death” sort of sounds by the numbers (i.e. like nothing new) yet still manages to display enough variety and innovation to keep the listener engagingly drawn-in and mesmerized, from the opening creepy guitar progression of “Draug” and poignant, triplet based raucous swagger of “Crusade of Evil” right through the pleasantly melancholic and clean, contemplative closer, “Finally Free”, befittingly imbued with rippling keys and a late, ephemeral organ passage. In general, synths are conservatively but portentously employed; such is the case on the kooky albeit sinister, Penance evoking “Nothing After” and next-to-last number, the chime-y and dream weaving, as well as cyclical and despondently raw “Silence” (the longest and sole track, along with “Draug”, to exceed five minutes).
Granted, Burning Saviours risks accusations of overt Witchcraft emulation (consider both the kings of Swedish retro occult themed rock/metal), especially on “Lamentations”, with its richly nasal vocals and slow burn tumble. However, the Saviours are brightly “aflame” and at the top of their game on the umlaut clad “Häxnatten” – my top pick for sure as it gripping-ly smacks of the formation’s singular and pure hallmark, so evident on past worthies such as “Dark Lady” and “Lilly Marion”: exquisitely poised and drawn-out, fluidly shimmering pentatonic leads superimposed over effortlessly bouncy and catchy rhythms underscoring Monks’ disenfranchised, as well as shakily lugubrious chanting. I particularly fancy its mellifluously soaring introductory solo, mountainously downwind momentum and resignedly sordid chorus. Such captivating instances invariably made me a fan back in the day. All told, Burning Saviours is a well-rounded and committed outfit whose passion will likely never dissipate or burn out.
While I can’t say for certain if “Death” is the Swedes’ best effort to date, it’s definitely up there with “Hundus”, as a promising and recommendable starting point for those who’ve yet to glean their darkly illuminating candor and flair. If anything, it’s re-kindled my love affair with old school styled eclectic doom in this vein. Now, excuse me while I dig through my treasure chest for more BS (the good kind) and Witchcraft, as well as other vintage acts I may have unceremoniously overlooked or laid to the wayside!