REVIEW: SIDEBURN – Evil Or Divine (2015)


Sweden’s classic rock magpies find their voice to fine affect

The history of Sweden’s classic hard rock/doom/progressive/stoner (their words) band Sideburn stretches back into the last century (the informative “about” section on their Facebook page gives the lowdown on the saga), but rather than the past, lets for the sake of this stick to the present.

However to quickly bring everyone up to speed, this record saw the light of day back in the spring, and the seven tracks on “Evil Or Divine” are most certainly worthy of further investigation.

Once an outright doom band (Sideburn are not to be confused with their hard-rocking, ACDC copying namesakes from Switzerland) the outfit here still has elements of that to their sound. The brilliant “When Darkness Calls” summons up all kinds of occultism from Candlemass to Ghost, for example, but the 2015 edition of the band deals with a classic feel to its metal.

Not a record that likes to do things quickly, “…..Divine” instead begins with “Masters And Slaves” and it’s downtuned rumble of a riff, but the reason this isn’t a straight ahead doom record is obvious from a couple of minutes in. Dimitri Keiski’s formidable wail is something more akin to Ronnie James Dio era Rainbow than anything Sabbath ever did, heavy? Hell yes, but it’s accessible too and by the time the opener had turned into a fine gallop and cut loose with a marvellous solo, it’s clear that what is happening here is pretty special.

And, once it’s found its mojo, “Evil Or Divine” is more than happy to keep along the same path, “Sea Of Sins” and “Evil Ways” are both timeless pieces of metal that could have come out at any point along the evolution of the genre and not been out of place, and “The Seer (Angel Of Death)” is a real fists in the air statement of defiance, and if it too contains plenty of Dio-isms then really, who is going to mind?

If the rest of the record is a merry trawl round all their stated influences. “The Day The Sun Died” manages to wrap them all up in one glorious eight minute highlight package and is arguably the best thing on show.

Special mention too, however, for “Presence” with gleefully adds some Eastern flavours to its Led Zep like brew, before heading off somewhere hugely interesting before the close.

All of which means that the band with the brilliant name has made a brilliant record to go with it. Disparate influences mesh together to make something really ambitious and truly divine.

Rating 8.5/10

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