Hot off the Press

NIVA | Incremental IV

by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Senior Columnist —

niva incremental ivPut your acid-washed denim jacket and your favorite worn-out Foreigner tee on … and don’t forget to comb back your hair, as it’s going to be a long but worthy trip thirty years back. The tour guides are, this time, the Swedish act NIVA, whose new album Incremental IV is due to be released in late August via AOR Heaven. And no matter how down-to-earth and skeptical you are as a listener – with this particular release you could have been easily tricked into believing it’s a long-forgotten unreleased material of some AOR act or other who sadly never made it in the ‘80s and was lost into the mists of time. If used by the label or the band’s representatives, this kind of wicked promotional campaign might have really worked, as the majority of this album literally sets the ‘80s on a listener’s home-built time machine.

The first tracks on the album – “Don’t You Know,” “Crush,” “Better Just Forgotten” – pretty much define the album’s content, delivering an expected portion of saccharine late ‘80s AOR/melodic rock with all its richness of tinkly keyboards, loud guitars and wonderful vocal harmonies. If looking for an apt comparison, these songs can be safely put next to the Blue Tears or Hot Boy endeavors, all of them infectiously catchy and irresistibly melodic. “Magnitude” sounds slightly heavier, followed-up by “The Reason Why” that may remind you of more contemporary, late ‘90s/early ‘00s melodic rock style pursued by the likes of Crystal Blue or Arti Tisi.

“Travel Back In Time” stands for two things; this kind of travel from the listener’s point of view being halfway through at this very point and the track itself as an obligatory ballad. This well-crafted, majestic track with emotionally laden vocals is certain to leave you bleary-eyed and sobbing, either for the lost love you’ve had or the glorious days when every rock band must have had at least a dozen ballads like this in their repertoire.

“Play The Game” has NIVA returning to keyboard-laden, dynamic pomp rock they’re undoubtedly the best at, sterling guitar parts complemented by Tony Niva’s incredibly high-pitched and melodic vocals. “Lost And Found” continues in the same feisty yet catchy manner, with more mellow and saccharine mid-tempo “Only You” in between.

Next is a soaring, nostalgia-driven ballad “All By Myself” preceding the album’s grand finale “Coming Back To You.” Enriched with some feisty guitar work, this one’s perhaps the most contemporary-sounding track on the entire record, but still not much of an oddity music-wise.

One thing that has to be said about NIVA’s Incremental IV is that the album is one of the best ‘80s records that were neither conceived nor released in the ‘80s. If the band members had possessed the physical ability to travel in time, they could have gone thirty years back to have their album competing with the classic Journey or Foreigner opuses. It’s as certain as the fact that their music continues to please the contemporary fans of the genre, even if melodic rock itself is not a mainstream fad these days. So, if Tony Niva and his gang’s previous endeavors are something you’ll familiar with, you’ll love this one as well. But if they aren’t and you still have a soft spot for immaculate vocal harmonies, brilliant melodies and well-crafted instrumental parts, you should definitely check Incremental IV out. It’s Scandi AOR/Melodic Rock at its very best.

Genre: Melodic Rock

Tony Niva – Vocals
Roger Ljunggren – Guitars
Marcus Persson – Keyboards
Jan Stal – Bass
Bengan Andersson – Drums

Track List:
1. Don’t You Know
2. Crush
3. Better Just Forgotten
4. Magnitude
5. The Reason Why
6. Travel Back In Time
7. Play The Game
8. Only You
9. Lost And Found
10. All By Myself
11. Coming Back To You

Label: AOR Heaven


Hardrock Haven rating: 9.5/10