As cliché as it feels to compare every post-sludge band to Neurosis, Sâver of Oslo, Norway is a dead ringer for that style. Their debut album, They Came with Sunlight plays out in Souls at Zero/Given to the Rising tradition with songs being driven by bludgeoning riffs, abstract drum patterns, and extended atmospheric swells. The vocals even consist primarily of a wailing screech strongly reminiscent of Steve von Till. Fortunately, the soundalike concerns subside when the band turns out to be pretty damn good at what they do.
The musicians’ tight chemistry in combination with a smooth production job provide much of the album’s strength. Despite their heroes utilizing two guitarists, Saver does just fine with one; the tone is dissonantly crunchy, the rhythms and leads have an occasionally wonky industrial tinge, and the periods of feedback provide ambiance without getting too obnoxious. The bass also does a good job of carrying foundations and filling in the gaps while the drums put in a healthy mix of bulky beats and tribal patterns.
Song lengths may vary, but the writing is consistently defined by drawn-out phrasing and harshly contrasting dynamics. This is perhaps best defined by the bookending tracks, “Distant Path” and “Altered Light,” as their ten-minute plus runtimes are respectively devoted to crushing sludge and haunting melodicism. I find myself drawn to the relatively straightforward opening chugs on “I, Vanish” as well as the spacy melodicism on the Mastodon-esque “Dissolve to Ashes.” I must admit that the post-rock drones on “Influx” and “How They Envisioned Life” can drag a bit, but they’re hardly dealbreakers.
Overall, Sâver’s first full-length album is a derivative but ultimately enjoyable post-metal venture. Everything sounds full as the band members show great confidence and there are enough strong tracks to keep from falling into average fare. A little more vocal variety and track editing might’ve spruced up the somewhat meat and potatoes presentation, but this album never wears out its welcome. Fans jonesing for new efforts by Neurosis or Yob may get some satisfaction from They Came with Sunlight.
“Dissolve in Ashes”