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Savn - Self Titled

Savn – CD Review
Self Title





CD Info
CDR Records
11 tracks
English with some Norwegian lyrics
9 / 10

Having always been a fan of Midnattsol, the German/Norwegian Gothic/folky metal outfit fronted by Caremen Elise Espenaes (you know, the little sister of Liv Kristine), I was very much curious about her new project, Savn, when it was announced sometime last year. This new Norwegian threesome also features two members of a Gothic band Sins of Thy Beloved, who I have to admit, I know nothing about at all. But the three came together and created Savn, and their new self-titled album comes out in North America on May 13.

The Norwegian word “savn” translates into “deprivation”, and that is a theme throughout the album, where Carmen wrote all the lyrics. The bands inception, however, was the brainchild of guitarist Stig Johansen and keyboardist Anders Thue, both members of Sins of Thy Beloved. Stig and Carmen were friends, and Stig asked Carmen to sing one song in the new Savn project, but things went so well, they welcomed her into the band, she penned a whole bunch of lyrics, lent her voice to all the songs, and voila, Savn as it is known now was born.

Being social media savvy, Savn released an album teaser and then as music video for the first single off the album, entitled “Hang On.” Those little musical amuse bouches made me very curious, and I am happy to report that, once I received the promo, I have listened to little else, because this is one of the most addictive albums I've come across this year (also, on an aside, I am very grateful to Savn for sending me one of the best press kits I've ever received, too).

The opening track, “Musical Silence” gives the listener a great taste of what we can expect from the album as a whole. It has a hard rock groove, nice and tinkly piano melodies, and some fiddle work that adds a folk aspect to the song. I believe there is also a cello in there somewhere, in addition to some other string instruments that give the song and the band's overall sound a bit of a symphonic flare. Carmen's vocal lines are very catchy, the verses being just as hooky as the chorus. I loved this song because it has a good combination of the mournful and the uplifting: the mournfulness comes from the lyrics and the uplifting part comes from the upbeat tempo of the tune and the beautiful vocal melody and harmonies created by Carmen.

“Hang On” the first single and second track on Savn, carries on in a similar vein, but it's track three, “The Demons In Me”, where things get a bit interesting. Stig lends his vocals to the song in a vox that's not exactly a growl but not 100% clean, either. It's kind of a gravelly sound – that's the best way to describe it. And it's not unpleasant by any means; I adds another element to Savn's sound, which as we travel through the album, also includes some flat-out growling in songs like “Now Or Never”, which is track eight. Both bonus tracks, revamped versions of “Hang On” and “The Demons In Me” also include growls by Stig. I didn't mind the growling at all; it made the album sound edgier.

There is a special guest on Savn, namely Liv Kristine, of Leaves' Eyes, and as previously mentioned, Carmen's elder sister. She lends her vocal prowess to “I Am Free”, another catchy, melodic track, and Liv provides some gorgeous vocal harmonies combined with Carmen's voice.

In terms of lyrical themes, the songs, though up-tempo and not overly dark-sounding musically, are kind of dark. They deal with stuff like sad emotional states, inner emptiness and inner pain, death, the end of relationships, and past regrets, among other things. I have always liked and appreciated Carmen's lyrics as they always seem to resonate with me somehow, and I felt the same with Savn's lyrics; she captures emotions well and asks questions in her songs that I really connect with.

Savn really came through with a gem of an album here. As Liv Kristine says, “it's very down to earth,” which I think is a great description. Savn keeps their sound and their premise simple. This isn't your typical overly-produced, choir-heavy, clunky, dramatic, Gothic metal album; it's got pep and its own character, and with the well-placed folk elements and faster pace, it's a unique sound with an appealing rawness to it. Carmen sounds fantastic, as usual. Savn seems to have come up with a winning combination,and I hope it takes them far!