SHIVA – The Curse Of The Gift

SHIVA - The Curse Of The Gift
  • 7.5/10
    SHIVA - The Curse Of The Gift - 7.5/10


Shiva Records
Release date: November 10, 2006

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Swedish Hard Rockers Shiva center around main members Mats Edström (guitarist) and Anette Johansson (vocalist) and is based around the city of Jönköping. By the mid-nineties, the two first gathered forces in Yankee Heaven, but eventually, after a few turns in various bands, they started Shiva in 2001. Progressive elements clearly continue to grow stronger on this the third Shiva release, and is pretty much ever-present at this point. While still retaining its original sense, the band offers nice middle ground for fans of slightly challenging listening and hook-laden melody. The Curse Of The Gift follows Shiva (2002) and Desert Dreams (2004).

Relatively heavy, but in an atmospheric way, Rage For Order-era Queensryche placed in more modern setting may come to mind as a reference. Though Edström and Johansson continue to write the music and lyrics, respectively, Shiva seems more of a band on The Curse Of The Gift. Whereas Edström played the instruments by himself to a larger extent on|this CD than its predecessor, The Curse Of The Gift, sees the pair joined by Mats Ottosson (guitar), Mattias Höijer (bass), Mikael Malmborg (drums), and Niclas Olson (keys), who has been given a lot of room to build on the band’s overall sound. The album is a result of two years of work and it shows.

The kind of dramatic stance is already apparent on the opener “When Tomorrow Never Comes,” although the hard riff combined with the growl guest male vocals courtesy of Magnus Forsberg proves to not be representive of the rest of the album. The song questions what happens when Mankind has drained out its natural resources, one example of several strong lyrics of Johansson’s. “Kill The Past” and “I’m Not The One” deal with the ever-relevant subject matter of relationships. “The Owner Of The Truth” starts off up-tempo, sort of Helloween-like, and is one of these songs criticising religion. Of course, organised religion is a problem, but the subject matter seems overdone within Hard Rock and Metal by now.

A short acoustic piece start off the song-trilogy that includes the title track of “Part I: The Gift,” featuring a moving guitar melody, “Part II: The Curse Of The Gift,” where the keyboards take on an almost organ-like sound during the verses before the guitars enter in time for the chorus, and “Part III: The Regret.” It’s an impressive piece, if not long trilogy, relying heavily off interaction by the guitar and keyboard parts alike. Anette Johansson’s voice proves perfect for the direction, shifting from dark to light with lush vocal harmonies forging in the background. Her “humming” in “Part III: The Regret” and vocal gymnastics in “Prelude” and “The Chameleon” (featuring perhaps the most memorable chorus present here, complete with a steady beat are good examples of her voice,sd complementing the band’s direction. Supposedly suffering from constant cold’s during pre-production doesn’t seem to have had an effect on her chords. Admittingly, it’s a little hard seeing them being able to pull off some of the background vocal melodies live, but maybe parts are being rearranged for that setting. “The Fly” starts off with a piano effect before leading into a more Metallic edge and another great chorus.

Despite comparisons above, it’s quite hard to justifiably describe the sound of Shiva. If you appreciate melody and drama, by all means check them out.


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