For our non-swedish readers, Prins Svart means Prince Black in Swedish. By that, it’s easy to figure out that Prins Svart are a Swedish band – but they also sing in Swedish which means that most of you won’t understand squat of what they’re singing about. This four piece was formed out of a Led Zeppelin tribute act called Four Sticks that were active in the mid 90’s – this is actually a reunion – so one doesn’t have to be Einstein to figure out in which genre of Rock these guys dwell. Since then the members of the band have been going out on their own escapades in different musical directions. Singer Stefan Berggren helped forming Swedish AOR act Snakes In Paradise, a band that recently reunited and released a new album, Step Into The Light, in September. He has also sung with Company Of Snakes, a band featuring ex Whitesnake members Micky Moody, Bernie Marsden (both guitarists) and Neil Murray (bass). He was also the singer for Don Airey’s (Rainbow, Deep Purple) solo band.
Guitarist Henrik Berqvist was until only recently in The Poodles and released five records with them, drummer Sebastian Sippola was the drummer in Swedish Metal doomsters Grand Magus and also played in instrumental Fusion rockers Plankton, a band that also featured bass player Thomas Thorberg who in his turn was part of Michael Schenker’s touring ensemble a few years ago. So what we’re dealing with here is hardly a bunch of rookie youngsters that wants to jump on the retro Rival Sons / Great Van Fleet band wagon – these are all experienced players at the top of the game with classic Hard Rock as a part of their DNA – these guys are the real deal. The question is, will it work with Swedish lyrics? I’m not overly delighted over music sung in Swedish but ex Shotgun Messiah / Easy Action singer Bosse “Zinny Zan” Stagman have proved with his two solo albums that it does work. So I’m much more open to that now.
Opener and leading single “Svarta Drömmar” (Black Dreams) is a slower paced and heavy retro rocker, without a doubt influenced by Led Zeppelin. It’s a ballsy, fat and very groovy rocker that’s very in-your-face, dynamic and rowdy. It’s quite catchy but I doubt they will get a commercial hit with it. But who cares, it’s written for the album and not for commercial radio anyway and what’s more important – it’s a fantastic song. “Jag Sparade Ingenting För Vägen Tillbaks” (I Saved Nothing For The Way Back) comes with slow, levitating, dreamy and even trippy verses and it seems like the guys have looked back to the 60’s here but then the refrain comes in and the song goes more driving and kicking and said refrain is brilliantly catchy. There are Zep influences here as well but not in a clone kind of way, more as a spice to edge things a bit. A real killer!
“Där Jag En Gång Stått” (Where I Once Stood) is a Rock ballad with a groove and Deep purple Mk III comes to mind. There’s also a slight Zep feel to it and I guess fans of Black Country Communion will dig this. It’s very organic and bluesy but also heavy and holds a chorus that everyone will sing along to, no matter if you know the language or not. Awesome stuff. “De Kommer För Att Hämta Mig” (They’re Coming To Get Me) picks up the pace again. We’re still in the 70’s but this tune is more of classic hard rocker in a more straight forward, in-your-face way that hits like a ton of bricks. There’s a pretty spacious middle-break where Bergqvist’s solo is in the vein of Ritchie Blackmore meets Jimmy Page. A hook-laden chorus takes the tune on a home-run – killer song!
“Färd I Natt” (Trek Tonight) is a more uplifting and upbeat rocker and I can pick up modern day Europe, Black Country Communion, Opeth and Avatarium here, just to mention some newer bands instead of the obvious 70’s influences. The tune holds a massive Blues feel but also a more Pop-laden vibe in the melodies which makes this number a damn catchy one. This is single-material if you ask me. Great. “Tänk Om Det Ännu Fanns Tid (What If There Still Was Time) is slow, earthy and a bit tripped-out progressive in the verses but it heavies up in the chorus majorly. It holds a killer mix of The Doors psychedelia, the heaviness of Black Sabbath and Classic Rock blues/rock of Led Zeppelin and Cream. The faster paced middle-break is a total Sabbath orgy. Brilliant! “Under/Fasa” (Wonder/Dread) closes the album in a slower pace, almost a ballad. It contains a heavy, moody organ and late 60’s/early 70’s influences which takes the song into a 70’s prog way, not very unlike the later Opeth albums. It’s still very groovy and brings on a floating and even soothing vibe. It’s an instrumental piece but still entrancing and catchy.
Yes, this is a Classic Rock record based on 70’s music and just like their 70’s heroes did it back when, the band figured that seven songs on a full-length album can be enough – if you throw away the fillers, then what more do you need, right? Some might say that only seven songs is a bit cheap but in times when mp3’s and streaming rules and CDs still stubbornly holds 12-15 songs, this is actually refreshing. And on this album, there are no fillers or bad songs – and the language thing, well, it took me about half of the opening track to stop thinking about that – I don’t think that even those who do not understand Swedish will be bothered by it because the music is really that good. Sound-wise this album even sounds like it was recorded back in the 70’s – it’s stripped, earthy, organic, heavy and very dynamic, very well produced. It’s retro but it doesn’t sound old or dated and in a time when 70’s retro bands come thirteen a dozen, Prins Svart sound fresh and passionate with sparks flying. Do. Not. Miss!
1. Svarta Drömmar
2. Jag Sparade Ingenting För Vägen Tillbaks
3. Där Jag En Gång Stått
4. De Kommer För Att Hämta Mig
5. Färd I Natt
6. Tänk Om Det Ännu Fanns Tid