Stefan Fredin- bass guitar, rhytm guitar, vocals
Dag Lundquist- drums, percussion, backing vocals
Robert Zima- vocals
Christer Åkerberg- electric & acoustic guitars
Mats Lindberg- keyboards & saxophone
Olle Thörnvall- lyrics
Recorded and mixed by Dag Lundquist at Decibel Studios, Stockholm, Sweden during 2003, except Nightflight -77 recorded at Grunden,Saltsjöbaden, Sweden 1977.
Cover art work by Johan Gullberg.
Cover design by Ossie and Johan Gullberg.
Mastered by Claes Persson at CRP Recording, Stockholm, Sweden november 2003.
Produced and arranged by Trettioåriga Kriget.
Review from Progressiveworld.net
TRETTIOÅRIGA KRIGET – “ELDEN AV ÅR”
Cat. No.: MELLO CD 010
Total Time: 48:01
Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, September 2004
Hands down, one of my favourite CDs for 2004 is this one, and one that I have been listening to a lot - a lot (really A LOT!) - over the past couple of months is Trettioåriga Kriget's Elden Av År, a concept album of sorts, a reflective album about the band themselves, whether literally or by reference. I just can't get enough of listening to it and I will tell you now, you must, MUST buy this. In fact, just as I sat down to write this, "Elden Av År" started going through my head. Damn this is terrific! It is an album that hits you right there, where you get it on a emotional level, where each note speaks to your senses. So much so, that although everything is sung in Swedish – TK are Swedish, after all – sometimes I think I understand it anyway. I can't explain it… This album is the audio equivalent of high art… and album that in Gnosis parlance, it's a 15 – at least my ears. And you'll see I've given it that rating over there.
By the way, as I write this review (at least the first draft), TK are playing at ProgDay at the same moment, about one-half hour into their set at this moment (assuming things are on schedule). I didn't plan it that way, but darn if it didn't work out that way. Well, yes, I meant to review this CD in time for ProgDay, so that was planned, but the exact moment I queued it up wasn't. I love these kind of cosmic coincidences in my life (others, not so much). So though I again couldn't get there – ProgDay - this year, I can imagine. TK are there promoting this album, their first release since 1981, and their 7th or 8th overall.
Trettioåriga Kriget, which means Thirty Years War, formed in 1970, releasing their first album, Trettioåriga Kriget in 1974 through what was then CBS Records Sweden (now Sony). Their second release Krissång followed in 1976. Having been dropped by CBS, they signed to independent label Mistlur and released Hej På Er in 1978. 1979 saw the release of Mot Alla Odds, and in 1980 their (at the time) last album Kriget. Over the years, the line up did change, with vocalist Robert Zima and guitarist Christer Äkerberg joining the band before the debut release, while at the same time Olle Thörnvall quit to concentrate on lyrics. Zima left after 1979's Mot Alla Odds. Though members reunited in 1992 for the CD release of Krissång and again in 1996 for the release of the mostly live album War Memories, it wasn't until 2003 that the band began to work on new material... this album.
Anyway, the whole package is great – and I mean that literally, because we must include the digipack (a duo-fold design) and booklet (fold-out poster style). The album's artwork suggests a darker album, though it isn't dark; but that doesn't mean that TK are a light and flighty band either. No, this is solid music, built on strong foundations without being overly aggressive (though never meek, either). Elden Av År, which in English means "the fire of years," is a treasure trove of guitars, bass, drums and percussion, organ, piano and mellotron. These are played by Äkerberg (stellar), Stefan Fredin (great), Dag Lundquist (terrific), and Mats Lindberg (excellent) respectively. The lyrics were composed by Thörnvall. Their "folkiest" moment is on the acoustic, balladic "Molnbudet" (The Cloud Messenger). Their "artiest" moment is on the darkly swirling atmospheric "Night Flight -77," very unlike the later composed track "Night Flight." But, what they do capture is the sense of night (the dark sound) and of flight (the gently throbbing bass and rippling guitar). It is I this track that you can hear how later Swedish prog bands like Lanberk, Anglagard and Anekdoten got some of their influence. Even though not by this track specifically, as this marks its first appearance. So, too, can we say this of the more recent composition "Gnistor" (Sparks) which has very dark and heavy Pink Floyd feel about it … except maybe the slide guitar work. They even sound great when things get a bit chaotic here in this piece … impassioned, rather than chaotic really.
I love each and every moment of this CD, from the crisp drumming and fat bass that kicks things off with the excellent new composition "Ljuset" ("the light" and "the candle;" about today's Stockholm) to the slide guitar solos that finish off the album with "Gnistor" (Sparks; about the band's history from day one). I don't think I have been this satisfied with an album from start to finish ever … okay, maybe not since Marillion's Misplaced Childhood, which this sounds nothing like.
In fact, I find that vocalist Robert Zima, who has a smooth, warm voice that is very pleasant to the ear, sounds like Kurt Maloo… um, he's the vocalist with Double, the Swiss duo who hit it big in 1986 with um, "Captain Of Her Heart."* This especially on "Möte" (Meeting). Of course, TK's sound only bears the occasional soft jazz moments, and frankly I love those moments just as much as I love their rockier moments. While there is a hint of the soft-rock of the 70s (a hint, I say, so don't get up in arms!), there is also a folk rock element, where the rock element dominates. Hard to really describe that … sort of mid-west jazz by way of Sweden. There's a mellower, jazzier element to their sound with just a tad bit of a twang in guitar phrases. In fact, the title track features "sketches of songs from the spring of 1977," the band write in the liner notes, where one part, the instrumental "'Night Flight -77' actually was recorded then."
What characterizes most of these pieces is a long instrumental opening. In fact, only "Night Flight – 77" is entirely instrumental. Äkerberg can play both chiming broad leads, and get down to expressing himself in note by note fashion – chorus vs verse, as it were. The title track is a good example of this dynamic, and in fact, it is the chiming notes that do accompany the sung choruses (I can almost "sing" along to it, though only phonetically (and badly at that)).
My absolute favorite moment (among many favourite moments) is the guitar playing on "Night Flight." Äkerberg's sweet, sharp, crying tone cuts right to the heart. But more than that, it's each and every note… and each rings out clearly, definitively. At times, Äkerberg's style recalls David Gilmour's in mid-to-latter day Pink Floyd. It is stunning throughout this mellow piece, especially when set against the "throatier" high-energy rocker "Lång Historia" ((a) long story or long history; about the band's return to music after a long absence). Here "Night Flight" is the twilight song, reflective, warm, and inviting. Looking at the liner notes again, we see that this piece is about "a girl [in the] here and now […] although the point of view is retrospective…" Well this is captured perfectly.
Well, I think this review has become a rather chaotic jumble as I flit from thought to thought, but it gets down to where I began: Elden Av År is absolutely, 100% fantastic from start to finish and you must buy it.
Primarily a guitar based group, but with enough keyboards to add plenty of texture to the sound, T K 2004 play with a vitality and fervour long since missing from the work of many of the prog heroes of the 70s (regardless of whether they have ploughed on through the years or jumped on the bandwagon of groups reforming for once last run round the houses).
The storming opener Ljuset is a winner from its opening seconds, with vivacious percussion and lively bass playing providing a rock solid base for the jangling guitar licks and riffs. Splashes of mellotron add the finishing touches to a very full and absorbing sound. The pace drops for the vocal section, which is well handled and the vocals are delivered with enough feeling to render the obstacle of language redundant. This is a triumphant opening to a successful reunion disc.
Night Flight is another strong track, which seems to borrow the saxophone riff from Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street and transposes it to guitar. Trettioåriga Kriget have always seemed willing to borrow bits and pieces from other groups, but - as here - the end results are always uniquely their own.
Lang Historia is built on a terrific chugalugging riff, with more mellotron backing adding to the epic feel. The guitar soloing is stupendous. You may well catch flashes of other groups as you listen, but the overall feel is entirely original.
The opening section to Elden Av Ar is one of my favourite bits of the CD, with organ and guitar combining to excellent effect. Fans of Scandinavian prog will know what to expect when I say that this is suffused with the typical moody melancholia associated with bands from that region.
As this review is fast becoming an epic in its own right, I will try to cut things short by concluding that the rest of the CD never really lets slip the quality, with even the acoustic ballad Molnbudet holding its own. Considering that this is a reunion disc, the standard is incredibly high throughout. All pre-existing fans of the group will want this, as should fans of Landberk, Anglagard, Wishbone Ash, Camel and… I could go on! Now I come to think of it, why don’t you all try to at least hear a little of this disc – you may well be pleasantly surprised.
Elden Av Ar : 8.5 out of 10
Trettioåriga Kriget are a modern progressive rock band from Sweden. I wish I could give you more history, but because I don't read Swedish, here is what I can tell. Back in 1977 the band started laying down tracks for an album For whatever reason that project never got developed. The suite, "Elden Av År", "Møte", "Molnbudet", and "Night Flight-77" are all based on the early recording sessions. 27 years later, we finally have the full modernized project via Elden Av År. This title suite both rocks and sets great themes and soundscapes. These are talented musicians that apparently have been hiding for years. I am so glad we finally found them.
All songs are in Swedish so I will treat the vocals as simply another instrument, since comments on the lyrics would be futile. Right off the bat, the thing that caught my attention was the bass playing of Stefan Fredin. His bass is high up in the mix, and his interaction with drummer Dag Lundquist and Guitarist Christer Akerberg is fantastic. Opening track "Ljuset" is one of the best songs on this CD. It does a good job of showcasing each performer and blends lead and background vocals into a powerful force.
The ballad "Night Flight" is a calm interlude that is well written and performed. The pace picks up with the excellent "Lång Historie". This mainly instrumental again has the bass way up in the mix and works like few other progressive tunes released recently.
Elden Av År is recommended for all fans of melodic-progressive rock. Even if you are not used to listening to non-English lyrics, the talent of Trettioåriga Kriget is worth taking this risk. Trust me, after a couple of listens you will not even notice. If I would have received this CD before the cut off, it would have been in my top 10 for 2004.
Added: April 12th 2005
Reviewer: Steve Ambrosius
4.5 stars."Elden Av Ar" means "The fire of years".Four of these songs actually had their beginnings in 1977,but this project was shelved at that time.The only complete song from back then was the instumental "Night Flight-77".The incomplete others were "Elden av ar", "Mote" and "Molnbudet".The other four songs are brand new.So this record is actually a reunion of the band,which can be disasterous as you know,but this couldn't have been more successful.Some feel this is the best record they have ever put out, which is really saying something considering that ANGLAGARD and LANDBERK both count TRETTIOARIGA KRIGET as a big influence on their music.The guitar really is the focus of this bands sound,although organ, mellotron and piano definitely add to the soundscapes.The first song "Liuset" is the longest.The arrangments on this song are genius,we don't hear the Swedish vocals until about three and a half minutes in.The song ends with a lovely extended guitar solo."Night Flight" is another wonderful song.Again the guitar playing is out of this world! Amazing! "Lang Historia" has some nice drum/guitar interplay,but it's all about the beat on this one.I'm sure this guy can make his guitar speak and sing.The vocals come in and then it's back to the groove sound of the start, and the guitar not the vocalist made this happen! The guitarists name is Christer Akerberg,you and i need to know this.He's at it again on "Mote" a beautiful intro leading to some really inspired playing."We're not worthy"! This record really surprised me in many ways,and i've found a new guitar god as well.I will be hunting down their earlier releases to see what so inspired LANDBERK and ANGLAGARD, although i think i already know.