“New music, old friends”. That sentence and a picture of Anders Wikström (Treat, ex- Mental Hippie Blood) and Mats Levén (Candlemass, Trans Siberian Orchestra, ex- Yngwie Malmsteen, Treat, Swedish Erotica, Krux, Abstrakt Algebra) was posted on Facebook by Wikström about a year ago. That alone was enough to get my pulse up a notch or ten. See, I have always been a huge fan of the 1992, self-titled Treat album that featured Levén as the singer of that band and I was saddened when the guys decided to put that band to rest after just one album together. Add to the fact that I hold Levén as one of my all time favorite singers and I also hold Wikström as one of the most underrated guitarists in hard rock – ever. Wikström has also proven that he still is a song writer of the highest calibre on the latest two Treat albums. So the fact that these two gentlemen has decided to work again was great news for me even though, at the time, no one knew exactly what that meant in reality.
But as time went by, more and more news of their new project showed up – and the more interested I got. But to be honest, I knew since the day I heard about Wikström and Levén’s working together that no matter what came out of that project, it could never be bad, it was just a matter of how good it would turn out. Not so long ago, I got an invitation for a listening “party” and among a bunch of other participants, we were served beer and snacks and a pre-listen to the forthcoming ReVertigo album. The guys wanted some feedback on the songs and I accepted the invitation, how could I not? I got to learn that Wikström was responsible for the lead guitar parts, bass and keyboards, Levén for lead vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboards and that Thomas Broman (Great King Rat, Electric Boys) was given the drummer spot. A wise choice. The songs? Oh man, I dug them. Lots. But mind you, we were a pretty large group of people there and it wasn’t always easy to REALLY listen to the music properly. So after doing just that, this is what I have come up with.
Opener “Hoodwinked” kicks off with some really distinct riffing, very much Wikström recognizable where the modern Treat vibes are pretty obvious albeit in a darker and heavier way and dark and heavy is the mood the whole tune is in. There’s a very memorable melody line that runs through the tune both in verses and chorus and said chorus is brilliantly super-catchy but radio friendly it’s not. It’s a fantastic song and doesn’t exactly lower the expectations for the rest of the album. Second single “Sailing Stones” follows and it’s clearly single material. It’s a driving hard rock number with a heavy beat and a chorus impossible not to surrender to. Traces of modern Treat do lurk in the shadows but never takes over but it’s not wrong to call this heavy melodic rock – a real winner! “Symphony Of Fallen Angels” sports a big, addictive groove and a bouncy rhythm even though the tune is a bit moody and a laid-back arr completes an almost ballad-like melody. My mind draws towards Lipservice era Gotthard at times but it doesn’t sound like Gotthard per se, if you get my drift. It’s a great, memorable tune where everything just falls into place.
First single “The Cause” is a hit to my ears. It’s uptempo with a distinct riff, a bit pompous and even slightly symphonic here and there but it comes with a fat, ballsy beat and a ridiculously catchy refrain that makes this an almost obvious single choice. Still, it’s not let’s-write-a-song-for-commercial-radio hit laden. That said, I just can’t the tune out of my skull – not that I’d want to. “Gate Of The Gods” is a bit more complex in its construction and it’s more modern than the rest albeit not anything like all the stereotype rock radio bands out there. It’s more of a technical, darker pop song that comes out heavy and groovy with an in-your-face attitude. Another killer! “False Flag” is more straight forward hard rock in mid pace. It also brings Treat to mind both in structure and melody and a tune for all of us who loved the Levén fronted Treat. Do I need to point out that the chorus is bloody amazing? Ok, then – the chorus is bloody amazing!
The grandiose ballad “Unobtainium” is laid-back and quite soft but not in any way wimpy or cheesy. It stays on a steady ground and it comes with a dynamic atmosphere and some Eastern flavoured keyboard sounds. It lies somewhat on the modern pop side but also with a heavy touch. The whole tune is incredibly memorable and if it was up to me, I’d release this as a single because everything about it screams hit. “Luciferian Break Up” is a groove laden melodic hard rocker that lands somewhere between Treat and Gotthard but with a heavier arrangement and Levén’s very personal vocal melody. A real killer as well. “Joan Of Arc” is a more steady meat n’ potatoes, go-for-the-throat hard rock stomper. I find it the most traditional rocker here but that matters none since the quality is really high. “Break Away” is the most rock radio-friendly tune on the record. It’s heavy with hard beat but also brings along a refrain that etches itself to the brain. I dig the hell out of it. They close they album with the (sort of) title track, “In Revertigo” and it is also the song that stands out the most. It’s aggressive and ballsy but also quite progressive. There are big, fat riffs over a heavy base and on top lies a masterful melody and the whole thing is arranged with unexpected twists and turns. The tune is a masterpiece in itself.
I’m not sure if my mind was made up after the listening party but the fact is, I liked this album even more when I had the chance to really listen at home and through my headphones. Whatever the reason is of little importance, what’s important is that Wikström and Levén has made a brilliant beast of a record, a record that without any doubt will show up on my top ten list of 2018. It will most definitely end up somewhere in the top as well. “We might not be reinventing the wheel but we’re certainly putting on fresh tires”, said Levèn about the album and boy is he right about that. See, the base here is melodic hard rock and it’s quite easy to spot Wikström’s song-writing, riffs, arrangements and melodies in many places but the record is full of musical twists and turns, progressive thinking and personal arrangements which gives ReVertigo a personal sound. Levèn’s vocal melodies also brings out a different kind of vibe which adds to both their sound and to the dynamics. Sonically, the album’s production is really spot-on – dark and heavy yet melodic as hell. This is not just another melodic hard rock album – this is ReVertigo. Do. Not. Miss. Out.
2. Sailing Stones
3. Symphony Of Fallen Angels
4. The Cause
5. Gate Of The Gods
6. False Flag
8. Luciferian Break Up
9. Joan Of Arc
10. Break Away
11. In Revertigo