Salva - Ghost Story

 Posted: 190322

Review Erik Neuteboom

 

The Salva-project is the brain-child of Per Malmberg (Lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, accordion, mandolin and percussion) since 2003 when he joined forces with Stefan Gavik (electric guitars and backing vocals) and Johan Lindqvist (keyboards and backing vocals) to found Salva. As a three-piece formation with Per handling the bass-playing, drum programming and percussion in addition to his regular instrument arsenal they started recording what was to become their debut album A Handful Of Earth in 2004. In 2005, the three decided it was time to start working on their second album. The vision for Salva was always to be a "full band" which resulted in the quest for a drummer and a bass player. They didn't have to look far. Johan's younger brother, Fredrik is a gifted bassplayer who had been playing with Johan, Stefan and Per in other constellations and drummer Lasse is an old school friend whos musical path has crossed the others several times as well. In 2007 Salva released the second album entitled Left To Burn. Due to ‘starting families’ it took 4 years until Salva relead their 3rd effort entitled Thirst, followed by Sigh of Boreas in 2016, Off The Deep End in 2018, A Thousand Ways To Disappear in 2020 and recently Ghost Story (2022), studio album # 7, in almost 20 years. I am only familiar with the CD Off The Deep End from 2018, I wrote about it: “This album suffers from a bit too ambitious approach at some moments, too many ideas and too much variety. And some tracks sound for me too polished, like the AOR inspired songs and the ballad Clarity IV. But in general I conclude that this new Salva effort contains lots of entertaining and tastefully arranged music. With good work on keyboards and guitar, I hope on its next album Salva will focus on compositions like King Of Nothing and especially Under The Fear, I am sure then Salva will showcase more of its potential.” So how about Salva and their new album Ghost Story, 4 years later?

Well, I am pleasantly surprised, Salva have matured in writing compositions and I see a lot more of their huge potential on this new album Ghost Story than 4 years ago on Off The Deep End. And I am pleased with the strong vocals in English.

Awakening (13:16) : After an intro with soaring strings the first part of this dynamic epic composition alternates between mellow with high pitched vocals and tender piano and slow rhythms with bombastic Mellotron choirs en Minimoog. To me it sounds like a pleasant blend of AOR (Styx and Kansas), Heavy Prog (Savatage and Ayreon) and symphonic pop (Kayak). Halfway propulsive fat guitar riffs and sumptuous keyboards reign, then a heavy guitar solo with Mellotron choirs, pretty exciting. The final part is very compelling featuring a bombastic climate with sparkling piano and moving guitar solo, wow.

Discovery (6:53) : It starts with beautiful interplay between twanging guitars and Mellotron violins, then a mid-tempo beat with Minimoog flights, sensitive guitar runs and sumptuous Mellotron choirs,  really a Salva trademark. Now vocals and organ join, the music turns into an AOR sound featuring Minimoog flights and a harder-edged solo. Halfway a mellow part with warm vocals, then a moving guitar solo, followed by lush Minimoog. I notice that this entire album contains lots very tasteful work on keyboards and guirar. Finally an eruption with heavy guitar riffs and thunderous drums. I am impressed how flowing Salva switch from mellow to heavy to bombastic.

Gig (7:03) : This track begins different: a swinging piano, spacy synthesizer runs, funky keyboards and powerful vocals. In the second part sumptuous vintage keyboards featuring a sensational Minimoog and Mellotron sound, concluded with bluesy guitar solo and Mellotron violins, a strong musical idea.

Ghost (12:53) : Another dynamic epic composition, from dreamy and a slow rhythm to mid-tempo and bombastic, tastefully layered with a variety of instruments, from tender piano, soaring strings and spacy synthesizers to rock guitar, Minimoog runs, Mellotron choirs and a bombastic outburst with heavy guitar and thunderous drums.

Everysong (6:32) : Now a ballad, embellished with dreamy vocals, piano, mellow organ waves, and finally a moving guitar solo in a more lush sound, simply wonderful.

Score (10:58) : This long final song starts with a slow rhythm, in a bombastic atmosphere, followed by a dreamy mood with vocals and piano, and flashy Minimoog flights. Halfway a sumptuous eruption with Mellotron violins and fat guitar riffs. Then another moving guitar solo and sparkling Minimoog. Overwhelming and I love it! Now the music turns into mellow, AOR inspired, with melancholical vocals, and vocal harmonies. Finally tender Grand piano, culminating in a moving guitar solo with Mellotron choirs, another ‘wow’ moment!

I am sure this strong new Salva album will please many progheads who are into a harder-edged prog sound.