Some years ago I was asked to attend a gig of SWATH by a friend. I had no idea of the band whatsoever but finding their EP “The Circle” freely downloadable, I decided to give them a listen. I wasn't expecting too much, so the more pleasant the surprise was. As “The Circle” started to play the straight-to-the-point opening melody of the first track took me off the ground instantly. I must have listened the EP some five times in a row, in surprising awe.
It took a few years for their second effort, a three track EP “The Carrion King,” to overtake my ignore-barrier and unfortunately it isn't as strong as its predecessor. It is a good effort still, but harder to grasp and lacking some of the immediate melodic hooks of “The Circle.” “The Carrion King” is based on crooked riffs and melodies which really take a few listens to stick, but also make a lasting impression. The music is immensely hard to categorize, closest, for all you genre yuppies like me, I could throw in Technical Thrash/Groove Metal. I think I ended up listening “The Carrion King” only four times in a row.
The vocalist presents impressive variation; not top notch quality, but versatile and usually solid. Though sometimes, especially Hardcore-shouting vocals sound a bit too wrinkly for their own good; like ENTOMBED taking themselves too seriously.
After a year the record continues to grow and is for sure better than it was on the first listens. After the first listen pretty much the only thing I picked was the bridge melody of the first song “A Graceful Exit,” while especially the melodic chorus of the title track, “Carrion King” sounded off. After multiple listens it started to become clear that the odd structures support the music well. Innovative moments are for example the blast-beating in “Ambitions Die” and “The Carrion King”'s sudden breakdown at the three-minute mark, with classily effected vocals. This variation keeps the listener thoroughly entertained.
Over time, the obscure chorus melody of “The Carrion King” has picked up noticeably. It's still not the biggest hit melody I've heard but a very cool experimental piece of music. The reason I am sticking with this melody is that I think it sums up the state of SWATH right now; a band that is not the easiest to grasp, but has all the tools to make remarkable tracks and quite succeeds in it already. For a free download Metal release, it’s a surprisingly professional record.
Recently SWATH has had some member troubles, losing a drummer and a guitarist. Maybe new members will be the spark needed to ignite their next release to higher spheres?
(Online March 9, 2012)