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5 stars Swedish band Salva are back with their third release and follow up to 2007's "Left to burn". It has, in my humble opinion, been well worth the wait (even if one could wish for a shorter waiting period in between albums in the future).

Salva's music is a rich, adventurous hybrid of symphonic prog, heavy metal, folk and even pop- rock in the Beatles-tradition. This album sees the band taking another big step in their musical development and it is nice to hear that "Thirst" incorporates even more heavy influences than on previous releases. Some of the riffs are really killer.

The album kicks off with one of the album's heaviest riffs in "Exclamation Point". Nice interplay between riffing guitars and mellotron in odd time signatures. Intense and powerful vocals takes over in the verse with heavy staccato playing from the band. Salva's strong harmony vocals are introduced in the b-part/chorus, recalling the vocal-work of old greats such as The Eagles and The Beach Boys but set to a heavy, pushing pulse of intense playing. The song slows down after a couple of minutes in an atmospheric breather with arpeggio guitars and a soaring Moog-lead before taking off again with a melodic guitar lead set to arpeggiated synthesizers which kind of reminds me of Muse. More heavy riffing, a blistering guitar solo and some great vocal passages leads back to the main theme which closes the track. A great album opener!

The second track, "Primoris Iugum" displays the folky side of Salva with superb accordion and mandoline-led themes that takes the listener in to a sparse verse with passionate vocals, acoustic guitar, upright bass and accordion. A heavy riff leads in to a richer part with guitars, hammond organ and harmony vocals. The song then settles down again to an atmospheric background with lovely counterpoint harmony vocals that reminds me a little bit of Gentle Giant. A downright folk passage with accordion, mandoline and tin whistle leads to a quick reprise of the heavy riff before settling in a mysterious almost arabic-sounding guitar theme set to atmospheric synths and interesting rhythm work from bass and drums. This leads in to a coda with acoustic guitars, warm hammond organ and more superb vocal harmonies in a counterpoint fashion. This section recalls Pink Floyd circa Dark Side-era. The track closes with a reprise of the folk theme. Lovely, rich, folky track that is also available as a music video on YouTube.

"Adjustment for all" (Funny paraphrasing on "And justice for all") is, with its 12 minutes, the closest Salva comes to a prog epic on the album. The instrumental themes that fills up the first five minutes range from rich moog-themes to almost funky guitar riffing until it slows down in a presentation of the main theme with mellotron-flutes a'la "Strawberry fields forever" and acoustic guitar. The song goes in to a sparse ballad with nice piano work before erupting in a beautiful, melancholy guitar solo. The song shifts to more force again before halting in an eerie moog-solo over a jazzy setting of rhodes piano, bass and brushed drums. The song then moves over the main themes in order to conlude in a heavy retro-prog theme over-flowing with powerful guitars and mellotrons. This track is superbly adventurous and rich and is one of my personal favourites.

Next we have "Can of worms". It starts with a chilling mellotron-cello which is quickly interupted by a heavy guitar riff. This brings more modern metal bands to mind. The lead vocals on this song are handed over by main singer Per Malmberg to guitarist Stefan Gavik who does a really good job as well. This track is a bit more straight forward with pumping guitar riffs and nice harmony vocals throughout. The chorus introduces some lovely high pitched vocals and the band even introduces some dissonant sounds which further broadens their sonical pallette. After an atmospheric interlude of evocative synthesizers, a blistering guitar solo over a fast paced riff increases the intensity for the closing chorus and ending riff. Really cool song in a heavy metal-vein.

The fifth song, "Frost", is introduced by the bass of Fredrik Lindqvist resting on a bed of atmospheric synthesizers and an ominous grand piano. This song sounds really symphonic with heavy riffing guitars and lush classical strings recalling the sound of gothic metalbands such as Nightwish and Therion. The verse takes the intensity down a notch as a bridge to the softer, almost romantic b-part. After a second verse the riffing takes over again and leads the song in to an amazing synthsolo that continues over several different parts. The song then concludes, first in a beautiful coda with some highly emotional vocals by Per Malmberg set to arpeggiated guitars and atmospheric synthesizers and then in a peculiar melodic ending theme with rhodes piano, guitars and flute. Great song!

"Losing battle" is something we've never heard from Salva before. It's a piano ballad with what seems to be a string quartet. Wonderful vocals from Malmberg with equally wonderful piano playing from Johan Lindqvist. This is the shortest track on the album clocking in at only 3:30 and works perfectly as a beautiful, romantic interlude between the longer, more proggy tracks.

The album closes with the 10-minute track "One week" which starts with an arpeggiated electric guitar theme that builds with the rest of the band joining in as the theme progresses. The music continues with a rhythmic passage with a lovely moog lead until reaching the main guitar riff theme. The song suddenly breaks down in to an atmospheric soundscape that brings electronica and ambient music to mind which leads in to the first verse. Drums and bass join in a slow paced chorus that introduces Salva's trademark harmony vocals. After this the track picks up speed with a funky, almost bluesy feel with great riffing and Hammond organ filled with attitude. The song takes another turn when the tempo halts and goes in to a tight rhythmic theme with drums, bass and moog bass. Over this the soaring lead guitar of Stefan Gavik conjure up the ghosts of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Great guitar solo! Via several different themes and passages the song concludes with the main guitar/hammond theme and ends with the lonely tones of a musical box which closes the album (which seems to be a Salva tradition).

This album is simply amazing and Salva's greatest achievement yet. Can't wait for the next album. My warmest recommendations.

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Posted Friday, September 30, 2011 | Review Permalink

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