Trettioåriga Kriget - Elden Av År

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Mellotronen
Catalog Number: MELLO CD 010
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:01:00

Hands down, one of my favourite CDs for 2004 is this one, and one that I have been listening to a lot - a lot (really A LOT!) - over the past couple of months is Trettioåriga Kriget's Elden Av År, a concept album of sorts, a reflective album about the band themselves, whether literally or by reference. I just can't get enough of listening to it and I will tell you now, you must, MUST buy this. In fact, just as I sat down to write this, "Elden Av År" started going through my head. Damn this is terrific! It is an album that hits you right there, where you get it on a emotional level, where each note speaks to your senses. So much so, that although everything is sung in Swedish - TK are Swedish, after all - sometimes I think I understand it anyway. I can't explain it? This album is the audio equivalent of high art? and album that in Gnosis parlance, it's a 15 - at least my ears. And you'll see I've given it that rating over there.

By the way, as I write this review (at least the first draft), TK are playing at ProgDay at the same moment, about one-half hour into their set at this moment (assuming things are on schedule). I didn't plan it that way, but darn if it didn't work out that way. Well, yes, I meant to review this CD in time for ProgDay, so that was planned, but the exact moment I queued it up wasn't. I love these kind of cosmic coincidences in my life (others, not so much). So though I again couldn't get there - ProgDay - this year, I can imagine. TK are there promoting this album, their first release since 1981, and their 7th or 8th overall.

Trettioåriga Kriget, which means Thirty Years War, formed in 1970, releasing their first album, Trettioåriga Kriget in 1974 through what was then CBS Records Sweden (now Sony). Their second release Krissång followed in 1976. Having been dropped by CBS, they signed to independent label Mistlur and released Hej På Er in 1978. 1979 saw the release of Mot Alla Odds, and in 1980 their (at the time) last album Kriget. Over the years, the line up did change, with vocalist Robert Zima and guitarist Christer Åkerberg joining the band before the debut release, while at the same time Olle Thörnvall quit to concentrate on lyrics. Zima left after 1979's Mot Alla Odds. Though members reunited in 1992 for the CD release of Krissång and again in 1996 for the release of the mostly live album Warmemories, it wasn't until 2003 that the band began to work on new material... this album.

Anyway, the whole package is great - and I mean that literally, because we must include the digipack (a duo-fold design) and booklet (fold-out poster style). The album's artwork suggests a darker album, though it isn't dark; but that doesn't mean that TK are a light and flighty band either. No, this is solid music, built on strong foundations without being overly aggressive (though never meek, either). Elden Av År, which in English means "the fire of years," is a treasure trove of guitars, bass, drums and percussion, organ, piano and mellotron. These are played by Äkerberg (stellar), Stefan Fredin (great), Dag Lundquist (terrific), and Mats Lindberg (excellent) respectively. The lyrics were composed by Thörnvall. Their "folkiest" moment is on the acoustic, balladic "Molnbudet" (The Cloud Messenger). Their "artiest" moment is on the darkly swirling atmospheric "Night Flight -77," very unlike the later composed track "Night Flight." But, what they do capture is the sense of night (the dark sound) and of flight (the gently throbbing bass and rippling guitar). It is I this track that you can hear how later Swedish prog bands like Lanberk, Anglagard and Anekdoten got some of their influence. Even though not by this track specifically, as this marks its first appearance. So, too, can we say this of the more recent composition "Gnistor" ("Sparks") which has very dark and heavy Pink Floyd feel about it ... except maybe the slide guitar work. They even sound great when things get a bit chaotic here in this piece ? impassioned, rather than chaotic really.

I love each and every moment of this CD, from the crisp drumming and fat bass that kicks things off with the excellent new composition "Ljuset" ("the light" and "the candle;" about today's Stockholm) to the slide guitar solos that finish off the album with "Gnistor" (Sparks; about the band's history from day one). I don't think I have been this satisfied with an album from start to finish ever ... okay, maybe not since Marillion's Misplaced Childhood, which this sounds nothing like.

In fact, I find that vocalist Robert Zima, who has a smooth, warm voice that is very pleasant to the ear, sounds like Kurt Maloo? um, he's the vocalist with Double, the Swiss duo who hit it big in 1986 with um, "Captain Of Her Heart."* This especially on "Möte" (Meeting). Of course, TK's sound only bears the occasional soft jazz moments, and frankly I love those moments just as much as I love their rockier moments. While there is a hint of the soft-rock of the 70s (a hint, I say, so don't get up in arms!), there is also a folk rock element, where the rock element dominates. Hard to really describe that ? sort of mid-west jazz by way of Sweden. There's a mellower, jazzier element to their sound with just a tad bit of a twang in guitar phrases. In fact, the title track features "sketches of songs from the spring of 1977," the band write in the liner notes, where one part, the instrumental "'Night Flight -77' actually was recorded then."

What characterizes most of these pieces is a long instrumental opening. In fact, only "Night Flight - 77" is entirely instrumental. ?kerberg can play both chiming broad leads, and get down to expressing himself in note by note fashion - chorus vs verse, as it were. The title track is a good example of this dynamic, and in fact, it is the chiming notes that do accompany the sung choruses (I can almost "sing" along to it, though only phonetically (and badly at that)).

My absolute favorite moment (among many favourite moments) is the guitar playing on "Night Flight." ?kerberg's sweet, sharp, crying tone cuts right to the heart. But more than that, it's each and every note... and each rings out clearly, definitively. At times, Åkerberg's style recalls David Gilmour's in mid-to-latter day Pink Floyd. It is stunning throughout this mellow piece, especially when set against the "throatier" high-energy rocker "Lång Historia" ((a) long story or long history; about the band's return to music after a long absence). Here "Night Flight" is the twilight song, reflective, warm, and inviting. Looking at the liner notes again, we see that this piece is about "a girl [in the] here and now [...] although the point of view is retrospective..." Well this is captured perfectly.

Well, I think this review has become a rather chaotic jumble as I flit from thought to thought, but it gets down to where I began: Elden Av År is absolutely, 100% fantastic from start to finish and you must buy it.

Ljuset (8:55) / Night Flight (5:40) / L?ng Historia (7:40) / Elden Av År: Elden Av Aring;r (5:10) - M?te (4:36) - Molnbudet (2:30) - Night Flight -77 (6:50) / Gnistor (8:00)

Stefan Fredin - bass guitar, vocals
Dag Lundquist - drums, backing vocals
Christer Aring;kerberg - electric and acoustic guitar
Olle Thörnvall - lyrics
Robert Zima - vocals
Mats Lindberg - organ, piano, mellotron

Trettioåriga Kriget (1974/2004)
Kriss&aing;ng (1976/1992/2004)
Hej P? Er (1978)
Mot Alla Odds (1979)
Kriget (1980)
War Memories (1992)
Om Kriget Kommer (1996)
Glorious war - Recordings from 1970-1971 (2004)
Elden Av År (2004)
I Börgen Och Slutet (2007)
Efter Efter (After After) (2011)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: September 5th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 780
Language: english


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