Vera : Swedish Soliloquium might quite possibly put some heart into a man of fans from Katatonia, Swallow The Sun and October Tide in these hard times. They needed a long time to develop indeed. Three EPs and the debut album ‘An Empty Frame’ (2016) preceded the album we are now reviewing, entitled ‘Contemplations’. In the meantime, the duo – existing of Stefan Nordström (vocals, guitars) and bassist Jonas Bergkvist – did some improvements. They are no longer just a copy of their paradigms, but managed to find their signature own sound on ‘Contemplations’, a fifty minutes plea in doom/death metal style, with producer Mike Watts behind the drums.
In the nine minutes long opening track ‘Chains’, vocalist Mikko Heikkilä from Kaunis Kuolematon has a guest appearance right away. It is a smooth built up song with sonorous guitars passing into eerie violence with grunts and proper momentum. Fluttering guitars take you on a flight into heavenly swarms, then snappy, almost blackened chants lead once more to soaring guitar solos. In brief, this is done to a turn. Later we also hear clean vocals, solemn and introspective, and that is continued in ‘Catharsis’ with – indeed – a kind of guitar sound that is really akin to Katatonia. The instrumental ‘Streetlights’ opens the road to more doom/death metal passages in ‘Unfulfilling Prophecy’, with beautiful guitar fragments and a proper balance between clean chants, rolling growls and blackened fury. The band also has a soft spot for shoegaze, ‘22’ is a nice example of that. Mikko also guests in the song ‘In Affect’, once more a song in which the contrast between introspection and rigorous doom/death metal comes to full bloom. It is not an innovative record, but really enjoyable in its genre.