I’ve Listened to These Swedes Recently…

…and needed to get the short word out.

Artist: Shining
Album: V/Halmstad
Format: CD

Lead singer Niklas “Kvarforth” Olsson (a.k.a. “Ghoul”) whispers, grunts, growls, and nearly sobs his way through this latest installment of their brand of Black Metal, known as, get this, “Suicidal Black Metal”. Smart, huh? Assholery aside, V/Halmstad is a well-produced, intricate, and beautiful album that should be up for one of the best releases this year. Classical guitars mingle with creepy samples and mid-tempo rhythms to create a desolate but enjoyable heavy pounding pulse of pure (self) hatred. The groaning during the quieter parts might turn some listeners off, as will the lengthy, melodic solos, but the package fits so well together that by the end you won’t remember. You can’t forget, either. (Side note: It isn’t Black Metal unless there is some sort of controversy, correct? Well, Kvarforth disappeared in 2006 and was thought to have killed himself. A new singer, Ghoul, took the reigns, but it turned out to be Kvarforth dressed differently. If you get the chance to see them, keep this in mind: they are known to assault their fans and pass out razor blades at live performances. Silly, silly boys.) (Also, don’t get these guys confused with the Norwegian band Shining. They are amazing in their own right–think of a John Williams soundtrack played by members of Boris, Need New Body, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, all on heroin.)

Artist: Truckfighters
Album: Gravity X
Format: CD

Sludge/doom/Melvins fans, rejoice! The Swedes are on board! Back-of-the-throat-singing has had its heyday (90s grunge, modern sludge, etc.) but sometimes it matches so well with the music (or the music is so enjoyable that it is overlooked) that you can’t help but blast it in the old Camaro driving to either the beach or the Fireworks outlet. There is nothing new on here; riffs, distorted vocals, and slow tempos dance together in a smoky bong haze of skipping school and burning down an abandoned factory. Recently toured with Fu Manchu, if you care.

Artist: Memfis
Album: The Wind-Up
Format: CD

Everything is here; complex rhythms, interesting riffs, good production, nice artwork…why does it, then, fall short? After listening to it, one can’t remember a single thing that stood out. It’s a shame, too, because everything is done well, but it’s been done before. Add it to the collection and put it on when you can’t think of anything else, otherwise forget about it. They’ll be gone in two years.

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