Swedish Metal

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

“2021 will see the release of a wealth of albums written and recorded during the COVID pandemic. This phenomenon will likely impact records in a myriad of ways. Some will directly reflect the times in concept, lyrics or atmosphere. Others may benefit from bands having additional time stuck in lockdown together to hone their compositions. In the case of Evergrey‘s 12th album Escape of the Phoenix, the latter appears to be the case.” Firebirds, energy weapons.

The Generals – To Hell Review

The Generals – To Hell Review

The Generals are a Swedish quartet from Åmål, releasing two full-lengths and a split since their 2002 formation. 2009 debut Stand Up Straight and 2013’s Blood for Blood were both solid slabs of Wolverine Blues mimicry that, despite their simplicity, had no need to fix what wasn’t broken. To Hell, the first effort since 2013, continues and capitalizes upon its “death metal-cigarette with a rock ‘n’ roll filter” aesthetic with chunky riffs, blazing solos, pissed-off barks, and a Swedeath buzzsaw tone that commands respect.” Hell ain’t a bad place.

Paranorm – Empyrean Review

Paranorm – Empyrean Review

“This may be their debut full-length, but Uppsala’s Paranorm are no spring chickens in the thrash game. According to legend — and the band’s social media accounts — Paranorm was formed by three high school friends on a hot summer night in 2007 to the sound of Megadeth‘s Rust in Peace blasting from the stereo. After an initial run of a demo and a couple EPs, the band has been quiet for the last seven years. What could they possibly have been doing during such a long break from writing? If Empyrean is any indication, they spent the time searching for, discovering, and studying some powerful relic that confers ancient, arcane knowledge of the five magics of metal mastery, because this record is a progressive thrash metal monster.” Paranormal ratings.

Age of Woe – Envenom Review

Age of Woe – Envenom Review

“Five years ago, Swedish doom peddlers Age of Woe threw down their second album, An Ill Wind Blowing, and I will always associate that album with another ill wind that blew through my home: Hurricane Matthew. Just like the latter ill wind battered and bludgeoned its way through the Bahamas, Haiti, and most of Florida, the former Ill Wind battered and bludgeoned my eardrums with some pretty hefty and sludgy doom goodness. Now with Rotten Sound‘s Keijo Niinimaa replacing longtime guitarist Gonzo Incognito, they’ve come back to batter and bludgeon me once more with Envenom.” Woe hammer.

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde Review

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde Review

“Just about a year and a half ago, I shocked the world by covering Humanity’s Last Breath‘s sophomore record, Abyssal. Djenty deathcore is not normally in my wheelhouse, but every once in a while, I get a craving for something über heavy. I really liked a lot of what I heard on Abyssal. Humanity’s Last Breath paint horrific scenes using an crushingly bleak sonic palette, and when things clicked on Abyssal, it shook the very ground. But as much as I loved most of what the band did on that record, it felt like it could have used some trimming to sharpen the impact. When I heard that followup Välde was scheduled for a February release, it immediately landed a spot on my most-anticipated albums of 2021 list.” Next to last breath.

Lake of Tears – Ominous Review

Lake of Tears – Ominous Review

“Sweden’s Lake of Tears may be one of the most chameleon-like bands in metal history. Over their 27 year career they’ve morphed from Gothic doom to prog, stoner space rock, and onto dark prog with blackened edges. Somehow they always did justice to the disparate styles they tinkered with, and like those many flavored jelly beans in Harry Potter, you never knew what you would get from album to album. It’s been almost ten years since 2011s Illwill and I’d started to think of Lake of Tears in the past tense. Then along came ninth album Ominous.” Buying tears in bulk.

Ablaze My Sorrow – Among Ashes and Monoliths Review

Ablaze My Sorrow – Among Ashes and Monoliths Review

“Melodeath is a tough sub-genre to review because it exists in a constant state of tension. It’s pulled in three directions constantly: death metal at one point, traditional heavy metal at another, and power metal at the third. The ebb and flow between these is what makes it enjoyable, but it’s also what divides fans. Err too much to one end and the music sounds “death metal-lite.” Err towards another and it resembles strained power-metal without any heft. The best melodeath is able to resolve these tensions, creating a palatable middle-ground. The Swedish melodeath scene of the 90s mastered this, and was pivotal to the movement’s popularity. A minor, but not inconsequential, contributor was Falkenberg’s awkwardly titled Ablaze My Sorrow.” Pain in the ash.

Tribulation – Where the Gloom Becomes Sound Review

Tribulation – Where the Gloom Becomes Sound Review

“I’ve loved Tribulation backwards. After Dr. Fisting‘s review introduced me to Down Below, I paid it forward to my fiancée, whose reaction was initially lukewarm. But after we witnessed the band play at the Dynamo Metalfest festival, she became an even bigger fan than I was, and she started spinning their material relentlessly. This obsession exposed me to much of the band’s back catalog, from the recent gothic-oriented material to the early Entombed-style death metal, and even branching off to guitarist Jonathan Hultén’s excellent dark folk solo album Chants From Another Place last year.” Gloom for rent.

Soen – Imperial CD Review

Soen – Imperial CD Review

AMG Himself and I come at Soen from slightly different directions. Our overlord fell in love with this band in spite of the overt Tool worship present on their initial releases, and felt that Ekelöf was their secret weapon, a vocalist of sublime talent. For AMG Himself, the band started off near the top of their game and have only gotten better over their first four albums. This writer, however, got on board with Soen because of their Tool worship (and the fantastic rhino artwork on Tellurian), and I felt what was holding the band back on their first three release was, in fact, the vocals.” Soen the seeds ov love.

Therion – Leviathan Review

Therion – Leviathan Review

“If forced to describe my relationship with Therion over the past 30 years, I would have to call it “complicated.” I was there at the start when they were a simplistic but enjoyable doom death band. I watched with interest as they slowly integrated opera and symphonic orchestration, making them one of the most unique extreme metal acts of the 90s. They had ups and downs over the decades that followed, with the lowest moment coming on 2018s 3-hour, triple album rock opera atrocity, Beloved Antichrist. Now Therion is back with their 17th album, Leviathan.” Opulence as pestilence.