When we’ve got the time and inclination, we visit a fabulous restaurant in The Big Smoke that serves an amazing meal over 10 or more courses, each one different to the others, but designed to compliment the entire meal for an overall dining experience. You might not like them all to the same degree, but the complete experience is why you go.
You know where I’m going with this, but, indulge me…
Hailing from Sweden, Liv Jagrell’s body of work is that of hard hitting rock and contemporary metal. She was the vocalist in Sister Sin until their split in 2015. Liv Sin was formed in 2017 and they released their debut album “Follow Me”.
This is their second album and “Burning Sermons” builds on the previous work, adding keyboards and a much fuller sound.
“Blood Moon Fever” immediately infects us with the new sound and the keyboards are blantantly apparent. Jagrell’s voice is intense – sweet and sublime one moment and brooding with simmering rage the next. There’s a lot going on at all times in this track. Full of spontaneous appearances of sound, it’s an assault on the senses. The guitar riffs are great, but they tend to get lost in everything else that is going on. We are treated to our first guitar solo, a frantic dance up and down the fretboards that is as intricate as it is compelling. Take this as a given – every track has one and they morph to suit the madness.
“Chapter of the Witch” puts a spell on us with fast paced guitars and this is then augmented with a complex tempo change. This oscillation of sound is carried on throughout the track, until it shifts gears and becomes more melodic. It’s a track about hope and triumph.
“Hope Begins to Fade” gave me the sound that I was hoping for – it’s a real banger. Featuring Soilwork’s Bjorn “Speed” Strid in a duet, the two vocalists prove the notion of synergy – that two or more things can be greater than the sum of their parts. As the track progresses chants are used, as are gems such as “something deep into my soul; I’m losing all my control”. The sound is less complex and features less effects – and it is terrific. Sometimes, less is more.
“War Antidote” inoculates us against complacency with military inspired percussion in the background and then it kicks on with aggression, including urgent and fast-paced vocals. This track has got real attitude and is as tough as Hell. The guitar solo mimics the staccato characteristics of the track.
“At the Gates of the Abyss” cracks open robustly, with clever and compelling riffs. Simple riffs and clear vocals are used to great effect, but this then switches to the more muscular style. A simple interlude is used in the middle of the track, before it again climbs back up into the madness. It drives hard and Jagrell’s voice is used to great effect.
“Slave to the Machine” has one guitar ruling in the background to begin, which is then joined by percussion and when the track really gets going, it is a heavy elaboration upon the opening. It’s cleverly done. We’re urged “don’t give in to the lie” and “don’t think you’re in control”. It’s a little confronting and disturbing, which suggest clever writing and execution. Again, the less complex nature of the track makes it all the more engaging. It is a counterpoint to what we’ve heard so far.
“The Sinner” returns to the complex sound and it features the use of macabre sounding keyboard. It gallops along and presents another different sound and feel.
“Death Gives Life Meaning” is born with ominous and sinister sounds, where something evil is lurking. The vocals emerge from underneath the mire and they sound troubled. Strong riffs then blow things apart and Jagrell sounds pissed off. This track is one that will resonate in your spirit, to use when you’re pissed off too. It includes challenges such as “Who are you trying to fool?”, “What are you trying to prove?”, “I’ve got nothing to say to you” and “Don’t waste my time!” It closes with a spooky echo.
“Ghost in the Dark” dawns with a melodic, distortion free guitar. Clear vocals are used to tell a tale of self-doubt and battling your own demons. It is anthemic in feel and intent.
“Dead Wind Intermezzo” has the sounds of wind and water blowing in, followed by something passing by quickly. It returns us to the complex sound, but with calm vocals anchoring the sound. It’s symphonic in parts, then replete with rollicking rhythms the next. It’s a track of many characters, with lots to hear. Intense vocals encourage the listener to join Jagrell, together against the storm.
This album is like the aforementioned banquet. Taken as a total experience, it’s an enjoyable one. Some of the tracks are complex, others simple in nature. I didn’t enjoy every one – the really complex ones may well be too clever for my palate. However, each one serves to augment and support the others.
It’s an enjoyable meal.
(Oh, and, I know you wondered what “Intermezzo” means – taken from Wiki: In music, an intermezzo (/ˌɪntərˈmɛtsoʊ/, Italian pronunciation: [ˌinterˈmɛddzo], plural form: intermezzi), in the most general sense, is a composition which fits between other musical or dramatic entities, such as acts of a play or movements of a larger musical work. In music history, the term has had several different usages, which fit into two general categories: the opera intermezzo and the instrumental intermezzo.)