SMT/ATF Episode 3: Sweden

For our third installment I have chosen Sweden, home to a lot of great bands, and of course NWOSDM!

 

While pretty much everyone knows bands like At The Gates or Dark Tranquility, whenever I mention Anata I usually face an empty stare. Once a more technical brother of In Flames, in our days there guys offer some brutal technical death metal…

 

If you want a different take on Swedish death metal Draconian is a band worth checking. Their album “Arcane Rain Fell” is a masterpiece of gothic death, and later on they tried different styles more along the lines of gothic doom…

 

Skogen was a huge surprise for me. They play this dark, slow, gloomy, melancholic ambient/black metal kind that is usually met in central Europe, but with a Swedish twist. Fans of Drudkh and late Vinterriket MUST check them out… (edit: for more traditional black metal, don’t miss their 2014 “I Doden” album, they really ramped it up!)

 

It is epic. It is folk. It definitely is Viking. Thyrfing is one of those hidden treasures that you never knew they existed, and after listening to one single song you realize these guys are just better that half the Viking metal bands you’ve heard in your life…

 

Lifelover is a pretty new band that recently introduced a completely new genre. Ranging from depressive black metal to suicidal alt/rock, in the end of the day they left me thinking: not sure if I like them, but it sure was a fresh listen.

 

Finally, we have Cult Of Luna. Their atmospheric post-metal/sludge is not exactly my cup of tea, but I do have one of their albums in my prized collection, so they are obviously doing something good…

 

SMT/ATF Episode 2: Norway

To close the chapter ‘Greece’ I have to mention one band I wanted to talk about in the first place but somehow it slipped off my mind when I was typing the original post: Den Saakaldte. When Morpheas left Naer Mataron and migrated to Norway he changed his nickname to Sykelig and proceeded to make some bizarre avant-garde shit. His debut was somewhat poorly executed and sounded badly, but everyone who heard it knew there is some serious quality hidden in there. It didn’t took long for “All Hail Pessimism” to follow and prove this to be completely true. If there wasn’t a ‘cabaret black metal’ tag before, hell, now there is…

 

Moving onwards, did I say Norway? Yup, that’s our next stop. Home of some of the greatest black metal acts, not to mention the very grounds the whole movement got born, it sure has tons of great musicians in every kind. While everyone and his mother know bands as Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon and Burzum, there are countless other bands, almost unheard of, experimenting and pushing forward in every direction.

 

Solefald was a band that was experimenting with bizarre avant-garde stuff when everyone else sat comfortably in their genres making a strong name for their bands. Now that everyone is trying to break free from their ‘brand’ and experiment with all kinds of alchemies, Solefald found their true form and just HAVE the experience to make unique music. The first song I ever heard from them was Tequila Sunrise –which sent me to a bar to taste the liquor and see what is this all about :P- but their latest works really won me.

 

One of the very few bands that have really really REALLY impressed me with their vocal works are In The Woods. Huge fans of progressive rock bands, their black metal was really weird and progressive too and later when they dropped the black metal guise they kept being unique and awesome.

 

I bet that when someone says ‘epic Viking metal’ your mind instantly jumps on Enslaved (and rightfully so since they are fathers of the genre). However, one of the best epic black metal acts I’ve ever come across are the –almost unknown– Aeternus. This is brutal stuff but regrettably they later jumped to European death metal and they didn’t convince me as much…

 

One of the first metal bands that invested in female vocals were Dismal Euphony. They began as black metal but later moved to gothic and later modern heavy metal. The death of one of their singers made more headlines than their music course, but they still have some awesome songs in every genre they tasted…

 

 

One of the oldest bands in here is Ulver. There have been so many star members in their ranks that is really shocking that people still don’t know about them. They were always experimenting and have left (and still do) wonderful pieces in every genre they have touched, be it folk black metal or even neoclassical ambient…

 

 

If you think Ved Buens Ende are trippy I guess you haven’t heard of Virus yet. The evolution of V.B.E. kept a minimal of black metal flavor and everything else is just… I don’t even know how to name this thing…

 

BONUS – p.s. @moenia: This House Of Viking/Enslaved song is similar to Daemonia Nymphe but with original Viking music. Enjoy:

SMT/ATF Episode 1: Greece

This is the article that started the whole series. I can’t remember exactly when it was originally posted, but I know the “first season” lasted for 12 episodes, one every week, all the way to the last week of 2011. I left the text unedited, even if it doesn’t make much sense out of the SMT context. I may come back and alter stuff if I find a serious reason for that, but for now this is enough…
–Tragon

 

This is an article about the weird cases of metal (and not only) music: those who were behind the scenes, never really getting as much of a hype but having a magnitude of their own, trying a different path and even pushing the envelope.

Big K gave me the idea for this article when he recently answered to some band and brought forth the issue of similarity and homogenization of today’s music. I personally feel that most modern bands don’t have a character. Over 90% of metalcore bands play the exact same things, are inspired by the exact same band(s) and if you make a compilation with a song from each one and put it in shuffle you can’t really tell which band is playing at any moment. Hopefully someone around these waters will find new inspiration in the following bands and, why not, invent a brand new genre…

 

Let’s take a closer look at Necromantia: a band that was formed by bassists and insisted on using distorted 8-string bass instead of guitars, or using whatever instrument they saw fit to create their atmospheres, even saxophones! They created some awesome black metal unlike anything you might have heard before. I think the first song I ever heard from them was “Spiritforms of the Psychomancer” but the song that still haunts me to this day is “The Arcane Light of Hecate”. Make sure to listen just after 2:25…

 

On Thorns I Lay is one of those bands that couldn’t sit too long in one genre. They started as eerie melodic death metal, close to the sound of Septic Flesh, but later they explored the waters of alternative metal mixing in some strings, with much success…

 

Ever thought what Septic Flesh would sound like if you strip them from all their –trademark– melodic death metal? Chaostar is a project of S.F. members doing exactly that. This is cinema material peeps!

 

Another band that has gone to great lengths but still remains a hidden treasure for a lot of people is Acherontas (formerly known as Stutthof). Their powerful and melodic black metal meshes well with the occult, promoting wampyrism and ancient Egyptian myths the proper way (THUNDERS and HAWKS and Ks and Js, you see what I did there). “Tat Tvam Asi” was just the –new– beginning…

 

One of the weirdest Hellenic acts is of course Daemonia Nymphe, who set to recreate the lost pagan music of ancient Greece. They created actual representations of the instruments the ancients used and released some of the most amazing music I have ever witnessed. It is no wonder that they are still unknown to the majority of Christian population of Greece, even after a lot of well-known singers (like Alkinoos Ioannides) participated in their songs, but they are respected by black metal fans all over the country (so much that Lord Impaler even made a tribute song to them called “Hymn To The Nymphe”), both because they are true and of course their origins…

 

So, what is the weird side of metal music in your countries?