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Resolution15 - "Svaha" (CD)

Resolution15 - "Svaha" CD cover image

"Svaha" track listing:

1. The Current (4:26)
2. Anjaneya (5:35)
3. In Full View (4:30)
4. Sunday Bloody Sunday (4:43)
5. Yama (4:17)
6. Mr. Dark (4:14)
7. Overdriven Maxim Mvt. 2 (6:03)
8. Kali (13:51)

Reviewed by on February 6, 2013

"It’s one of the better albums to come from an independent band so far this year, and it has the elements to get the band a whirlwind of publicity given the right circumstances."

Resolution15 throws thrash metal on its head by replacing the guitars with electric violin on “Svaha.” Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, which is starting to become the trend among bands looking to go the independent route, “Svaha” follows up their self-titled debut with classical-inspired thrash. Save for when the violin is played with limited distortion, it’s hard to tell there aren’t any guitars present to those who don’t pick apart music. “Svaha” is a compelling interpretation of a genre that has little left to be discovered.

The last modern band to use a violin as well as Resolution15 does was the prog death metal group Hung, and they had a guitarist to back up the violinist. That's not the case here, and that makes Resolution15 stand out. They could have coasted by with a “thrash riffs on a violin” gimmick, but “Svaha” is intricate in a way the common thrash album fails to grasp. There is a progressive influence in the instrumentation, especially from the hands of wild drum man Kenny Grohowski, and there are attempts to stretch the violin as more than a replacement guitar.

Though the band doesn’t do it often enough, “Svaha” reaches its prime when the violin gets to manipulate and contort the sound in a mood-building way. “Overdriven Maxim Mvt. 2” breaks from its groovy, laid-back tempo for a wondrous ambience that is only topped by the 14-minute “Kali.” This behemoth makes proper use of all its time, spending a few minutes setting an eerie atmosphere and erupting into a bitter roar calling for blood and bones. An extended outro drags the song out until it becomes almost unbearable, which could be good or bad depending on one’s mindset.

There’s also unfettered thrash-leaning tunes to enjoy, if the whole “sinister atmospheric touches” is not your style. “The Current” and “Mr. Dark” show that a precise violinist can match up to the best of the riff gods, and there’s even a few killer solos screeched out on songs like “In Full View.” The vocals during these songs are in a rough tone, though melodic vocals do make an appearance on most songs to make them appealing to those who don’t like 100% harsh vocals.

In an album with few misfires, the cover of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” counts as the worst one. This dead weight feels like the band tried too hard to make the song their own, while not being able to identify with the qualities that make this such a staple of U2’s catalog. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to put a little edge onto a cover, but it never clicks in a way to make it stand toe-to-toe with the original. Resolution15 would have been better off leaving it off the official release, as it just screams of “bonus track” material.

Don’t let the ill-advised attempt at “Sunday Bloody Sunday” scorn the rest of the album. “Svaha” is an original take on thrash, and using violins instead of guitars proves to be a major success. There is always risk in a new take on an old sound, but Resolution15 banks themselves a great deal of credibility because of that chance. It’s one of the better albums to come from an independent band so far this year, and it has the elements to get the band a whirlwind of publicity given the right circumstances.

Highs: Violin instead of a guitar used, thrash with some flair, band can really set a gripping mood in the right circumstances

Lows: Inept cover of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday," should have been more atmospheric-building songs like “Overdriven Maxim Mvt. 2”

Bottom line: A different take on thrash, utilizing violins in place of guitars for something fresher than typical thrash albums.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)