Alvablot – Harmonic Dystopia

Harmonic Dystopia Album Cover Art

Alvablot – Harmonic Dystopia
Self-Released
Release Date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 37:40
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Petter Karlsson is a rather versatile chap, no, scrap that – incredibly versatile and talented chap. Best known for his contributions to Therion, the Diablo Swing Orchestra, Snowy Shaw and Skyblood ‘Harmonic Dystopia’ is a solo project for this Swedish maestro. And when I say solo, I really mean solo, which means the whole project has been written, performed, recorded and produced by him. 

This was something of a surprise, given that he has historically been associated the most with the drums, so to discover the level of versatility hidden from public view was a pleasant surprise. To have that level of adaptability on its own would be an eye opener, but this is complex and Progressive, yet melodically well-crafted material with attributes that are likely to appeal to those on the Rock end of the spectrum as well as those of us who like our Metal. It’s got such a deep Prog vein running through it that one more than one occasion really feels like there’s that natural, chemical spark you get when a handful of incredibly skilful players hit their stride in perfect synchronisation. 

It’s one hell of an achievement.

So not only does Karlsson seemingly have bass, guitars, keyboards and drums off part, there’s the fact that his vocal performance is just as much of an eye opener. The vocals are clean in style, but his scale and range is impressive and again more indicative of an artist who has spent many years honing that bow string. It surprises on every level, because there’s a few high end screams hidden away in there which not many singers can pull off  – ‘Disharmonic Utopia’ being a fab example, as well as the longest, most Progressive, and indeed heaviest track on the record. Frankly I wonder where he finds the time to get that good at everything (and let’s not underestimate the recording and production skills here as well), but then occasionally in this game you come across these naturally gifted people whose deep understanding of musical principles and theory is such that they can make music out of anything. 

More importantly, nay crucially for a Progressive project, the song-writing is accessible and easy on the listener, but with oodles of added layers and dimensions over the base melodies making it the gift that keeps on giving, unfurling layers of subtlety with every repeated listen. That’s some song-writing skills. Clearly this is unlikely to be more than a studio project, but I’ve come away from it with a deep respect for Karlsson.

‘Lost In Time’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Blind Ma
02. Golden Elf
03. Lost in Time
04. Elysium Road
05. Realm of Broken Hearts
06. Disharmonic Utopia
07. The Fairy & the Witch
08. Dark Princess

LINE-UP:
Petter Karlsson – All instruments & Vocals 

LINKS:

Alvablot Promo Pic

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