Album Review: A Swarm Of The Sun – “The Rifts”

A Swarm of the Sun
The Rifts
(Version Studio Records)

Swedish duo A Swarm Of The Sun believes in patience. After breaking out with its successful debut, Zenith, five years ago, the group took its time crafting a follow-up. The band specializes in a cinematic, haunting form of post music that fits somewhere between post-rock and post-metal. In many ways, the band sounds like what would happen if Trent Reznor wrote a post-rock album in 2015, with echoes of an electronic hard rock past and traces of an overwhelming heaviness. Yet, through all the calm and turmoil, A Swarm of the Sun is most adept at conveying emotion. This is a dark and disturbing album, where each track seems to delve deeper into the mind and heart of a troubled soul; there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, just some pretty crescendos.

It’s no surprise, then, that The Rifts is a rather dense listen. One listen alone won’t allow you to appreciate all that the band has written. Of course, that means the albums is a bit of a grower, where the oppressive emotional connection to the music feels more tangible with subsequent listens. In that regard, the band takes many cues from Katatonia’s sense of haunting darkness and melancholy. It’s difficult to feel uplifted during the album’s run-time, but it’s easy to be impressed. Songs seamlessly float between brooding piano pieces and droning, sludgy guitars, while there is a not-so-subtle shoegaze influence that permeates the music as well. The question remains, then: was the five year gap worth the wait?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. The biggest problem with Zenith is that the highs were much more impressive than the lows, where the valleys didn’t really add context to the music; they just seemed rather inconsequential. While A Swarm Of The Sun is clearly better when it operates at higher volumes and longer song lengths (“These Depths Were Always Meant for Both of Us” is beautiful), The Rifts feels very well put-together. While every band seems doomed to pump out passable albums every two years, it’s nice to see a group take its time to improve over time. (Nicholas Senior)

Purchase The Rifts here.

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