It would seem that this is Scandinavian ‘Drenched Riffs’ Week, but to pigeonhole Swedish quartet The Riven as mere seventies Rock does them no justice whatsoever. Their bass-heavy groove machine is positively electric and eponymous debut album The Riven (The Sign Records) drips The Blues while shooting fire from both hips.
Opener ‘The Serpent’ is, as suggested, dictated by Max Ternebring’s dazzling bass but is as equally graced by a ripping lead guitar and Totta Ekebergh’s storming, Joplin-esque vocal. The following ‘Far Beyond’ is governed by acoustic riffs and soaring melodies, a simple structure made addictive by a swelling chorus which seemingly adds little until the incoming riff and sense of omen has ‘Old school classic’ written all over it.
‘Edge Of Time’ is proper seventies, and delightfully so: a giddy romp through a fiery Rock ‘n’ Roll template, syncopated in the breaks and coated by a wonderful, Maggie Bell-influenced vocal dripping with attitude. The mellow side returns with the initially brooding ‘Shadow Man’, ridiculously dated but so cohesive and full of import characterised by Ekebergh’s closing roar “We’ll meet at the end”.
‘Finnish Woods’, meanwhile, is as profound as its title would imply: the chorus melding Alannah Myles and Thunder whilst thankfully missing much of the polished commerciality that pairing might suggest, the track possessing a fearsome second half that evokes some of the latter band’s finest moments.
Ekebergh’s whiskey-tinted edge comes to the fore again with ‘Fortune Teller’: its bedrock carrying an element of Jazz but its fire being pure Blues Rock, the pensive moments as stirring as Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed And Confused’. ‘I Remember’ is another slow burner but Ekebergh comes out howling from the outset, coating the sparing riff and subtle drops in raw emotion, with Arnau Diaz’s solo apt and engaging.
The penultimate ‘Leap Of Faith’ is a ripper, a burning rhythmic intensity given a real pathos by impressive organ parps alongside blistering guitarwork and staggering harmonies: and while closer ‘Sweet Child’ is a return to that slightly formulaic Myles template it carries a thoughtful feel and is a wailing finale to an album oozing class and classic ingredients. Too often this kind of ‘repro’ Rock is plastic and derivative, but Blues Pills has proved it can still be fresh and itchy. The endearing, groovy The Riven aren’t far behind.
7 / 10