Salva - A Handful Of Earth

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Perand KB Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:52

I consider Per Malmberg to be a friend, but I promise to be brutally objective in my assessment of his band?s debut CD.

The lasting impression left on me by A Handful Of Earth was the variation. There are ballads, pure jazz, hard rock bordering on metal, and even some folksy moments; and above all it is wrapped in a cloak of pure modern progressive rock. Malmberg?s sense of melody may be his biggest strength, and Salva manages at once to build simple melodies into big sounds, and to break big concepts into simple verse.

Per?s vocals may or may not have universal appeal. His singing is in a rich, mid-tone delivery with limited range that lends itself to clearly enunciated lyrics. Which is lucky, since the self-manufactured CD does not include the words - you?ll have to listen carefully for them, or go to their web site which lists them in a very readable format.

Salva?s music addresses some big themes. There?s an exploration of the concepts behind religion in ?Faith Versus Reason? that recalls Jethro Tull?s Aqualung. (Per makes no secret that ?Tull is his favorite band.) ?Never Again? is a somewhat self-righteous, but understandably earnest examination of a child killed in a racial war. Other themes examine loss, loneliness and self-examination, and my favorite is the 9-minute "A Thousand Deaths." This track looks at the inner struggle to overcome one?s cowardice. It is very strong musically, starting with powerful metallic riffs, a pondering, heavy beat and layers of hard-edged Hammond-driven keyboards. It shifts into an elegantly progressive, classically tinged instrumental section driven by piano and orchestral-sounds, and it ends in a surprising soft-jazz section that extends the piece?s themes and takes them as far from metal as you could possibly get. And as diverse as that all sounds, the piece remains cohesive throughout. You could easily justify the purchase of A Handful Of Earth on this track alone.

Although Salva bravely attacks themes that so many other bands avoid, the prose itself could stand refinement. In addition, a few passages left me with the impression that the words were an afterthought, and were forced into an established instrumental layer. (Shades of Echolyn?)

So Salva?s strength lies in its instrumentation, and it is sometimes hard to believe that this is just a 3-man outfit. The fact that band members are childhood friends doubtlessly contributes to the musical cohesion and to the way each contribution complements the other. The songs are richly structured with bold shifts and bolder mood swings, the walls of sound on some tracks are huge, and the instrumental and sonic variety would suggest a far bigger ensemble. Listen for the elegant xylophone that closes out the CD at the end of "Gone," or the uplifting, lilting riff that starts the same track. Listen to the guitar and keyboard solos in "A Thousand Deaths." The accordion, the mandolin, the cello patch on "Rain" - all contribute to a well textured body of modern progressive rock.

In summary: A Handful Of Earth?s biggest strengths are its variation, wonderful melodies, excellent arrangements and the bold attack on big ideas. It is successfully ambitious, and although it isn?t perfect, it is a remarkable debut.

Never Again (7:08) / A Thousand Deaths (8:47) / Trick Of The Century (6:12) / Land Of Obscurity (5:15) / Faith Versus Reason (9:20) / Rain (6:45) / Gone (9:15)

Per Malmberg - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, accordion, mandolin, percussion and programming
Johan Lindqvist - keyboards
Stefan Gavik - guitar

A Handful Of Earth (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: January 1st 2005
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday

Artist website:
Hits: 1561
Language: english


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