Sovereign – Altered Realities
Sovereign is a Norwegian Evil Death/Thrash Metal four-piece band formed in 2018. Altered Realities is their debut full-length album, following the 2020 EP, Neurotic. Thriving on both speed and technicality, they push the limits of Extreme Metal, always seeking to expand their sound. Not content to just go fast for the sake of speed, they also infuse Melodic Groove Metal to allow the mind to drift on a wide array of tempos, shifting gears like a Grand Prix driver accelerating out of a turn into a straightaway. Sit down, strap in, hold on, and get ready to have your mind blown.
- Tommy Jacobsen – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
- Vidar Fineidet – Rhythm Guitars
- Simen Roher Grong – Bass, Vocals
- Cato Syversrud – Drums
January 19, 2024 – Dark Descent Records
- Altered Reality
- Futile Dreams
- Nebular Waves
- Counter Tech
- The Enigma of Intelligence
- Synthetic Life
- Absence of Unity
This album begins with the title track, a seven-minute song with an intro that sets the mood even before the first riff throat punches you. The main rhythm is Thrashy on the verge of Speed Metal with drops in tempo between verses and at the bridge. There are no clean vocals present and they would not fit the aesthetic of the album. The melodic section of each track are nice offset for the frenetic, chugging riffs. Technically, the music is well-written and played with precision.
Lyrically and thematically, the album explores some of the darker sides of technology and politics. Many of the songs are a commentary on life and the human condition within the current state of world affairs. “Futile Dreams” and “Absence Of Unity” both hint at the theory there is no longer a unifying dream of the world being a better place for everyone. Maybe that’s just the fatalistic American in me reading into what I hear.
Musically, the ambient keyboards layered into the rhythm add a touch of eerie, haunted despair that seems to influence the mood of the song as much as the guitar tuning and tempo do. Sovereign does a good job of building the song to convey more than just a lyrical meaning, adding tonal depth to create more ethereal mood enhancers.
Most of the songs on this disc are short, concise, and to the point, running around five minutes or less. While there is one track hitting the seven-minute mark, the opus for this album is the 10-minute closing track, “Absence Of Unity.” This track has time to wander through a vast soundscape, ranging from haunting intros to melodic rhythms and brutal passages. Intricate phrase changes and pattern shifts give this track a chance to edge into Prog Metal territory as it progresses. This is clearly the Epic Metal finale Sovereign wanted to leave you with, making wonder what might come next. I guess we will just have to wait for album number two….
- Guitars – 8
- Rhythms – 8
- Vocals – 8
- Songwriting – 8
- Production – 8
Overall – 8.00