SchwertMann – Theater Of Grief

Theatre Of Grief Album Cover Art

SchwertMann – Theater Of Grief
Glassville Records
Release Date: 05/11/21
Running Time: 41:10
Review by Simon Black
8/10

This is the lockdown project from the frontman of Dutch Progressive Rock act, Kayak, Bart Schwertmann. He had been working on this before the world went to hell in a handbasket, but a combination of a nasty hernia, a full-on breakdown and a global pandemic meant that he has been able to devote the time to completing this conceptual piece, despite his involvement in Kayak having been a relatively recent thing, as this had been bubbling around for a good deal longer. It’s not clear which other musicians have been involved in the project – “musician friends” are the only credit the press release gives and it’s at times like this that I really miss the sleeve notes of a physical copy, but judging by the technical virtuosity on display here, we’re taking old hands at the Prog game and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some of the other members of Kayak are involved in at least some capacity (although Schwertman does contribute bass and guitar parts to this along with vocals).

Musically this is a very warm and melodic record, despite the dark tone of the lyrical content, and that’s entirely down to the beautifully rich and clear timbre of Schwertmann’s voice, which is singing from the heart and with a hell of a lot of soul. The subject matter seems to have been heavily influenced by some of the rougher personal moments in his recent history and it’s a thematic concept rather than a literal story based on those experiences. This is slightly more of a Progressive Metal, than Rock outing that fans of Kayak may be expecting, but that said the musical style does venture into more familiar territory from time to time, with the ballad ‘Rainbow’ in particular being more of what Kayak fans would appreciate if the outré Metal of ‘Burning Down’ is too much. Personally, these more aggressive moments are the better ones, as vocally this forces Schwertmann into less familiar territory, which he delivers with power, aplomb in an utterly captivating manner, with the penultimate track ‘Can You Save Me?’ probably illustrating the best of what this record has to offer.

Producer Niels Lingbeek has done a cracking job here to boot, with a rich clear sound and a mix that allows the instruments to shine, whilst keeping Schwertmann front and centre, as is right, in a manner he may not get to deliver on his day job. This is a very rich and warm record and one that took a few listens before I could put fingers to keyboard, not because it was a tough nut to deconstruct, but because I kept getting distracted and lost in the work. That’s a good sign on any day.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Panic Mode
02. Antelope     
03. So Tired       
04. Burning Down           
05. There’s A Place         
06. Supernatural Forces
07. Rainbow      
08. Can You Save Me     
09. No One Else Can

LINE-UP:
Bart Schwertmann – Vocals, Bass & Guitar
Other Musicians not credited

LINKS:

SchwertMann Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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