WORDS: Craig Hibberd
For a small band from Norway, they definitely paint a big picture; capturing a true essence of Post/Prog Rock and within that brandishing their own sound. It’s the lasting, chilling melodies and emotional impact DELVOID’S artwork touches on so well. Yes, artwork; artwork in its purist form.
SERENE is DELVOID’S second Album, with their first being DELVE. There has been a big leap in production and external involvement. SERENE feels alive and more so, full of detail and distinct character.
The first track, titled as Intro, has to be the most effective start to an album. Adrian Haugen’s bass line that runs throughout, carries it so well and it is eerily beautiful. This is followed shortly by gentle piano notes, which offer a semblance of light. There’s a lot in the sound that resembles bands like MOGWAI; that cool and well relaxed ambience that carries a tone of sadness and darkness. The opening track is always the most important with progressive bands; DELVOID start off in fine form.
The second track Cocoon really makes DELVOID shine. Haugen’s deep bass starts off and it is clear that simplicity is key here. Heavy ringing notes that carry an overwhelming sense of fear, add in the natural sounds and the opening really comes alive. Guitarist Erik Halbakken slides his first notes of SERENE, they are chilling to say the least. A light use of reverb brings complete expression to his clean notes. Drummer Espen Granseth follows after a short and deep stop. A very natural and organic sound comes from the production; his drums are tight to the mix. There’s great clarity with every hit of the cymbals and tom-toms, overall, sounding rich and vibrant. The vocalist Alexander Jones steps into the mix, his voice is very strong and carries the music well, with calm tones and a great lyrical structure. Their style really hits home and stands tall throughout, building to one of the most harrowing shrieks in the closing seconds. Very unnerving and shows creative excellence.
Steambreather is a strange point of the album. So early on and we are treated to a effective opening guitar riff. It’s catchy with its groove and pulls you in. A relaxed verse follows and it leads to a standard Rock chorus, which is as above, simple, yet effective. The third quarter of this track is interesting, with dynamic instrumentation. A nightmarish sound comes from the use of chromatic percussion. The track itself is well performed and had many key areas, however, it feels very out of place to the rest of the Album.
One of SERENE’S strongest tracks has to be Diffused. It shows DELVOID’S talents in strong strides. Utilizing their Post/Prog style and crafting a very personal experience. When DELVOID keep their sound clean, you understand the work at hand. Telling creative stories through the soundscapes and bringing in members from Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra really adds to the depth of DELVOID’S sound. Slowly building in a divine sound; instruments complimenting one another with gentle focus that creates an immersion for the listener. When Diffused opens up, you hear strong likenesses with SIGUR RÓS; huge guitar effects that really sound like guitarist Erik is using a bow, like Jón Birgisson. The big sound never wanes; from the crashing of cymbals, to the singing of the guitar; instruments are one and create a universal unity.
Title track Serene is the lengthiest track on the Album at 18:37. Thankfully, it is a collective of DELVOID’S strengths; ranging from the deep and darkest atmospheres, that DELVOID create so well. To the open grounds of sound. The time is well utilised with their range of sounds. It’s a dark track and very atmospheric, I can only imagine the energy this song will create at DELVOID’S very personal shows.
Outro ends this album perfectly. Adrian Haugen using the beautiful Bass line from Intro. Espen Granseth follows with gentle percussion. Light guitar notes from Erik Halbakken add to the depth of beauty. The atmosphere created is a place of solitude and rest. It’s a positive way to end an album that has really moved me.
There is a theme of darkness and light throughout SERENE, and the concept of the Album is painted perfectly on the cover art by Roland Goksøyr. Capturing the lyrical themes of loss, psychology and in my eyes a hope in darkness.
From DELVIOD’S album DELVE to SERENE, it is clear the time, work and dedication gone into this album came from the deepest of hearts and minds. Their work shines a new face in the world of Post/Prog Rock and this album proves DELVOID are paving their own way to a very interesting future.
This is artwork in its purist form.