Reviewed: [August 2022]
Released [2022 Grind To Death Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Don’t know a whole lot about these guys other than that Rift is their full-length debut and, according to their Bandcamp bio, Eldprov offer up “melodic death/black metal from Sweden.” Also, Eldprov is Swedish for baptism/trial by fire. So there you have it.
However, I suspect we might be hearing quite a bit more about Eldprov in fairly short order. After offering up teasers with the singles “Until Nightfall” in 2020 and “Hunt” last year – accompanied by a pretty awesome animated lyric video the recalls Metalocalypse or Samurai Jack – the trio deliver their first full-length with Rift. And it is a very impressive debut that builds off the singles with its combination of death metal heft, black metal velocity and menace and a power/folk/symphonic metal grandiosity that makes it all quite palatable.
The band’s sound recalls the epic, melodically inclined but always turbulent bluster of Borknagar, IX Equilibrium-era Emperor or, especially, Keep Of Kalessin. Rift storms out of the gate with “Affliction,” a tangle of trem guitars, galloping drums and dogfight vocals. But its soaring riffs and rousing gang-sung chorus give it an anthemic quality that makes it catchy as hell, something that is true to varying degrees with the other six tracks here.
“Vex” is straight ahead and chunky, with a big, headbangable lead break, as are the black metallier “Silhouettes” and “Until Nightfall,” which again offers a sing-along group chorus – shrieky Dark Funeral/Grá frontman Heljarmadr lends a hand on these as a guest vocalist. Also chipping in on the album are Kvaen guitarist Jacob Björnfot and ex-Wolf axeman, umm, Johannes Axeman, who back up band guitarist Jonas Backe with some nifty solos.
At just over seven minutes, “Third Crow” is the album’s epic centerpiece. After an almost Iron Maiden-like harmony guitar intro, it settles into a trudge-and-sprint groove that delivers the album heavier moments. Lena Roolf provides some unusually grim female vocal accompaniment over an acoustic segment near the end, so even that feels heavy.
“We, The Unclean” and “Hunt” close things out in fittingly bracing fashion, with plenty of double-bass thunder from Simon Henell, Backe’s surging riffs and Andreas Zoergel’s authoritative bellow. “Hunt” recalls Amon Amarth with the nimble trem guitars that dance along the periphery, providing a melodic flourish to its otherwise beefy delivery.
Backe has played with a variety of underground bands (among them, Septic Grave, Soul Collector and Amoteph) since the mid-90s, and much of Eldprov’s material and aesthetic can trace their origins back 20-some years. And given all that time to refine and hone things, it’s perhaps no wonder the Rift sounds as determined and accomplished as it does. It’s a great first album, to be sure.