Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

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If there was a band that, in 2019, defines Swedish death metal better than Paganizer, I’d love to hear about them. The hardest working dude in death metal, Rogga Johansson, is back with more riffs and more savagery with ‘The Tower of the Morbid’, released late last year through Transcending Obscurity.

Cloaked in some awesome Dan Seagrave artwork, this is a record that goes for the jugular straight away with the galloping ‘Flesh Tornado’ and barely lets up from there. The guitar work is thick; chunky riffing with that trademark Swedeath buzz, ripping solos and chugging brutality. Can you avoid banging your head to the thunderous stomp of ‘Cannibal Remains’? No, that is impossible. But this is no one dimensional hack and slash death metal record. The melancholic ‘Redemptionless’ is a melodic tour de force, the gloomy ‘They Came to Die’ is gloriously Amon Amarth-like in its sword swinging power and the title track throbs with an ancient darkness.

A stunning microcosm of just why Swedish death metal is so highly regarded as a style, ‘The Tower of the Morbid’ is as close as you’ll come to a modern classic of the genre. The guitarwork is top notch, the songwriting is creative and yet very streamlined, and the overall atmosphere is laden with death. Rogga does it again, and Paganizer are a joy to behold in full flight.

https://www.facebook.com/paganizersweden/

https://paganizer.bandcamp.com/

https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/

V - Led into Exile

First published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-v-led-into-exile/

Out earlier in the autumn, Sweden’s sludgey doom lords V’s second record ‘Led Into Exile’ is a forty minute journey over six tracks, and looks to establish them as potential pretenders to the throne currently occupied by fellow Swedes Cult of Luna. This is full of sweeping dynamic shifts and huge riffs, but can they bring anything else to the table?

The opener ‘Broadcast from the Shadows’ begins with a slow-burn build, an almost hypnotic drone accompanied by tribal drumming before some dense riffs crash down. But this doesn’t just become your average ‘riff-shout’ assault that many other bands try for. There are genuine moments of melodic interludes, where the heavier sections are given a chance to breathe and the atmospherics flex themselves. ‘Illviljan’ has a harsher and raw sounding guitar tone, rumbling along with an eye on the grinding early work of Isis or Neurosis. These bands are obviously a great influence on V, and the titanic crush of ‘Hostage of Souls’ that follows just reinforces this. However this isn’t just the glistening weight of ‘Celestial’, nor the primal heft of ‘Through Silver in Blood’.

‘Led Into Exile’ is its own master, be it the ghostly almost silence that creeps through ‘Hostage of Souls’, the swaggering Sabbathian doom riffs that open ‘Phantasmagoria’ or the bleak folk acoustics of ‘None Shall Rise Again’. V are chameleonic; one moment hitting you with visceral heaviness and the next tugging on your emotions with beautiful material. It is this that makes them so appealing. Not every band in this style will risk opening themselves up like that, but V do it with aplomb.

As the monolithic title track thunders us to the close of the record, ‘Led Into Exile’ has left quite an impression on me. Whether crafting massive riffs that loom above like cliffs in the night, wretching vocals echoing around them or allowing us an insight into the quieter moments with acoustics or electronica, V are not just going to play the game the way we expect them too. ‘Led Into Exile’ is a surprisingly poignant work, and the sooner we can get more from V the better.

https://www.facebook.com/vpathogen/

https://suiciderecordsswe.bandcamp.com/album/led-into-exile

Eigenstate Zero is a Swedish death metal studio project from Christian Ludvigsson, and his debut full length ‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a mammoth seventy five minutes of shapeshifting death metal that betrays many, varied influences. It is out now through the band’s Bandcamp.

Despite the length of the record, the opening track ‘Fringe’ doesn’t hang around or build a slow burning intro. Brutality is immediate, constant and propelled with some delicious double kicks. You wouldn’t necessarily go as far as describing Eigenstate Zero as progressive death metal, but the technicality on display is very impressive in places. There’s also a myriad of influences playing roles throughout, from the In Flames-esque melodies of ‘1984.2’ to the chugging, sprawling Gojira-isms of ‘The Nihilist’, and the traditional Swedeath attack of ‘Communion’. In fact, Eigenstate Zero’s ability to weave together a number of varied styles into an album that feels like a cohesive whole is highly impressive. The longer tracks are also epic and well constructed, and these are where you get closest to progressive death metal, like the jazzy interludes of ‘Strangelets’.

‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a record that, while occasionally feels a little like an endurance challenge, mostly hits the spot for great songwriting, brutality and will keep you engrossed for a while. The songs have a lot of individuality and the album as a whole feels very cohesive despite a number of stylistic changes. Maybe reel in a couple of the more meandering parts and the next record will be perfect!

https://www.facebook.com/eigenstatezero/

https://eigenstatezero.com/album/sensory-deception

Godhead Machinery - Aligned to the Grid

The unorthodox second album from Swedish blackened death metallers Godhead Machinery came out earlier in the year through Inverse Records, and ‘Aligned to the Grid’ is a record that takes a little while to unpack, but the music within is something really special.

The labyrinthine ‘Tithe II’ starts us off, with chunky death metal underpinning a nasty black metal vocal rasp. The songwriting is maddeningly complex, with elements of Behemoth sneaking in, as well as tech death and even some of the more esoteric black metal out there. The drumming is an intense backbone to everything here, clattering blastbeats keeps everything powering along, while the guitar work show off ethereal melodies and some absolutely brutal riffs. The haunting rage of ‘Alpha’ is a highlight, but there are so many little details that create the overall art. The piano in ‘The Existential Strive’, the spoken word story running through ‘Call of the Banner’, the relentless battery of ‘Impassive Atrocity’ or the imperial gloom of ‘Illusion’; Godhead Machinery weave complex tapestries for all of us to worship.

Godhead Machinery do not ply the furrow of blackened death metal as others do. The music is heavy, thick, brutal while the atmospheres and vocals are pure black metal. An unholy marriage of genres in the right way, where each play to their strengths without being swamped by the other. ‘Aligned to the Grid’ is certainly unorthodox in places but it doesn’t confound you completely.

https://www.facebook.com/GodheadMachinery

http://www.godheadmachinery.com/

Era of Ephemeris - Among the Stars

Swedish symphonic metallers Era of Ephemeris have just released their debut record, ‘Among the Stars’, and it looks to catapult them into the conversation as top prospects for this style of operatic, melody and symphony laden metal. However, there is a deep and heavy darkness underneath that proves to be an interesting contrast.

There is a rich vein of symphonic, operatic metal running through Era of Ephemeris, immediately apparent with the soaring opening of ‘When a Leaf Falls’. The band however possess a thicker backbite than your Nightwishes or Within Temptations. The chugging riffing releases their Swedish death metal roots, and the combination of stunning female vocals and this heaviness is magical at times. The ethereal ‘Farewell’ leads with more orchestration, while the thunder of ‘Ancestral Vision’ keeps the death metal elements to the fore.

‘Among the Stars’ is a record of crushing riffs and haunting beauty, where soaring melodies don’t interfere with a brutal crunch. Gloriously epic, Era of Ephemeris have debuted very strongly here, and I look forward to what else is to come.

https://www.facebook.com/eraofephemeris

 

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The omnipresent shadow of Rogga Johansson looms large over the world of modern old school death metal. Having played on 13 different releases in the last 12 months is insane as it sounds, but the quality of work that Rogga always puts out makes that achievement more astounding. His latest release under his own name is ‘Entrance to the Otherwhere’, out through Transcending Obscurity in July.

The strangest thing about this record is that, surely we all must be totally sick of this sound by now?! But with the darkly melodic chug of ‘The Re-emergers’. Rogga immediately hits a sweet spot that barely drops throughout the whole record. ‘Entrance to the Otherwhere’ is a lot more groove laden than a lot of Rogga’s other records, and there’s a really satisfying crunch to the guitars. Daring melodic breaks, like the soaring ‘When the Otherwhere Opens’, take this beyond just another death metal record into a space of contemplation and multifaceted songwriting. The graceful quiet of ‘Berget vaknar’ is a surprising interlude in a record that delights in its shattering of expectations.

Accompanied by a moody, almost reflective atmosphere in places, ‘Entrance to the Otherwhere’ is another master stroke from one of the true lynchpins of modern death metal. It’s hard to find anyone this consistent and this varied. Treasure Rogga folks!

https://www.facebook.com/roggaofficial

https://roggadeathmetal.bandcamp.com/

https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.de/shop-en

Valkyrja - Throne Ablaze

Swedish black metallers Valkyrja’s fourth full length, ‘Throne Ablaze’, comes after a five year wait, and in that time the band have set themselves to the task of creating something even faster, harder and more blasphemous than their previous work. It is out now through WTC Productions.

First track proper ‘Crowned Serpent’ breathes with a hellish cocktail of Marduk’s ferociousness and the more dense, atmospheric tendencies of the likes of Naglfar. This is black metal done in a precisely Swedish way; dripping with melody but most of it is drowned in a viciousness, an ancient and corruptible violence infusing each riff. Even when the pace slows, like in the wretched ‘Transcendental Death’, there are no missteps. ‘Throne Ablaze’ is a record that encapsulates the bile-ridden beauty of Swedish black metal in all its neck snapping, blood stained glory.

From the hatred cascading across the icy ‘Tombs into Flesh’ to the flame licked guitarwork of ‘Paradise Lost’, this record barely takes its foot off the pedal. Don’t allow ‘Throne Ablaze’ to slip past you, because Valkyria have crafted a punishing exercise in the infinite balance of both the melodic and the blasphemous. ‘Throne Alze’ is a record that has both in plentiful amounts, and you’ll not get tired of it.

https://www.facebook.com/valkyrjaswe/

http://w-t-c.web-republic.de/store/