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SVEN GALI Bombs And Battlescars

By Nathan Dufour, Great White North
Saturday, February 17, 2024 @ 11:39 AM


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SVEN GALI
Bombs And Battlescars

In Motion Ent




Okay, Sherman, let's get into the WayBack Machine to 1992, when SVEN GALI was riding high on the hog on Canadian charts and video rotations with their debut self-titled album. The riffs were sharp and the hair was everywhere, and I - for one - was definitely under the influence. And then, like a fever dream, the band disappeared. This version of the band is probably doing the nasty things with SLIK TOXIK.

Fast forward a bit better than 30 years, and SVEN GALI return with a quasi new album in the form of Bombs And Battlescars. Interestingly, and unavoidably, with the passage of time, the same intoxication is not what awaits the listener here, in 2024. Replacing youthful ebullience is, in a word, reality: it's not pretty and is here to stomp you out. Consistently mid-paced and almost rueful, Bombs And Battlescars is aptly titled and yet, is not a full album. The tracks are five originals, one cover, and some demos. The best thing about a pinata is the variety found after you beat the hell out of it.

Confusion is a funny emotion, giving way to breaks of mental clarity amidst the fog of general being. As much as I may want to like and praise the efforts of SVEN GALI on their new achievement, that is not the case here. Having sat with the offering for some time now, I am generally tepid to it and the main reason is that the inclusion of the demo tracks takes away from the whole experience. Now, don't get me wrong, the back half being demos makes sense as filler and the demos sound as demos ought - rough around the edges. The stomping, raging, and outright funk/fusion/groove of "Hogs" is gonna be in my head for a while, but its strength does not save the effort from, on a whole, being rather stale. It is the sound of a band that is frustrated and reaching, trading in sharp riffs for radio adjacent hard rock without enough teeth to tear apart its prey.

Opener "One Gun" is representative of the album as whole, a staggering and swirling riff that goes nowhere (but not in a Doom way). The drums are absolutely buried in the mix in favor of a guitar that is way too forward with a tuning somewhere between an odd reverb, some twang, and a bit of bite on the lower end. The redeeming quality is in vocalist Dave Wanless, whose pipes have not corroded since the 90s - and that's a good thing.

Continuing the middling is "Coming Home" and it is a much stronger effort, and the drums are audible this time. Lyrically, I enjoy this song likely the most on the whole album for the wordplay on display and, again, musically, this is mid tempo hard rock. Arguably, it's the space where SVEN GALI are most comfortable at this stage and where their best work is to be found - I just want a little more from my listening experience in terms of variety. With that said, I can also listen to a lot that sounds very similar - but radio rock has by and large not struck huge chords in me - though there are some big riffs here for sure. The cover of TRIUMPH's "Spellbound" is the best song on offer here - and that should tell you everything you need to know.

The reality of the situation is, for my ears at least, is that no matter how often I listen to the first half of this album, Bombs And Battlescars frankly bombs more often than leaving a lasting scar. Taken as pieces, the first and second halves are serviceable, absolutely. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the demo songs could work really well as a standalone document and, with some polishing, could be of benefit instead of detriment as they are in their current form. All in all, SVEN GALI - now - makes me want to go with Sherman back to 1992. I dunno, maybe that is a function of age, back-in-my-dayisms and all of that. It just hit differently, but the battle was different then, too, and life can be ugly. Ultimately, is Bombs And Battlescars worth your time? About half the time. And so, accordingly...

2.5 Out Of 5.0


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