Metal In Northern Sweden Part 1
Metal in Northern Sweden (part one; click here for part two).
Calling all fans of HammerFall, Candlemass, Dark Tranquillity, and At The Gates: it's time to disappoint you, because your favorite bands won't be featured here (I'll let you figure out why).
A place where the temperature difference between summer and winter can be 60°C, dropping to -35°C in the winter and reaching a 30°C heat in the summer. A place where the snow stays six to nine months out of the year, rivers and lakes are covered with thick ice, and forests and valleys lie under one meter of snow. A place where the sun never crests the horizon during cold winter days and the day is as dark as the night. A place where the sun never sets during the summer and 24 hours pass in daylight. A place where blizzard beasts are raging in heavy force and life goes on for ordinary people, because we do not have the luxury of not going about our lives; it's do or die. 90% of Swedes live south of Sundsvall, roughly halfway up the country; only 10% live in the northern half. Of that 10%, 90% live near the coastline, with only 10% living in the interior. I am one of that 10%.
Some say that Northern Sweden starts north of Stockholm or Uppsala, but that theory doesn't thrill me; to me, Northern Sweden is north of Skellefteå, but to be more geographically and climatically polite, if you start in Sundsvall, which I used as the first marker, drive north in a straight line to a place where no trees grow and you have only mountains to the east and the Norwegian border to the west. Sorry, Sabaton fans; your favorite band won't be here either. Falun isn't in the north, although it is on the way.
The purpose of this article is to cover the metal scene in this roughly defined area of Northern Sweden. It is organized geographically, going city by city to hit upon the noteworthy acts in each location. I have heard all of the bands featured in this article. 90% of them I like a lot; some I added simply because they are big and must be talked about. Some demo-only bands will be here as well, but I have heard all of them.
Note: This article covers bands according to their places of birth, regardless of whether they relocated later on.
I asked myself whether I should start here or go a little further north, since I mentioned it as a kind of threshold; some might disagree, but I ultimately decided to start here. Sundsvall is a big city, the largest in Norrland. Historically, snow covers the whole area and they can get a lot of it; the difference between us (up north) and them is that they can see sunshine in winter and dark nights in summer. This is a big city by Scandinavian standards.
Lion's Share plays something of a mix of heavy metal and power metal. They started in Sundsvall in the late '80s, later relocating to Stockholm and suffering many lineup changes. The band has six studio albums, the latest of which, Dark Hours, was released in 2009. In 2018, the band dropped an EP with the simple title EP, featuring two singles released as lyric videos in 2017, a re-recording of the classic "Sins Of A Father" (for which the band was rejoined by original members Kay Backlund on keyboards and Andreas Loos on bass), and two live songs from the Sweden Rock Ronnie James Dio Tribute show in October 2010. During their history, the band has had three lead vocalists, but now the legendary Nils Patrik Johansson is on vocal duties. He and founder Lars "Chriss" Christmansson are the only members left in the band at the moment.
To say something about the band's music, it's not heavy metal, it's not power metal, and it's not even progressive metal, but a sound in which all three elements are mustered into one; sometimes it's hard to listen to them, but it goes well if you're in that special mood. Last year, the band shared a few new singles; "We Are What We Are" can be found here.
Lion's Share is currently working on a new album, which will supposedly be out some time this year.
Hey, old Nick from sunny Hellas, I am borrowing your idea :p
He's taking hold of us all
He's gonna make us fall
Left Hand Solution
In a time when many new genres are born and new and old alike influence new bands trying to create their own identity, this band could find its own way to beautiful-sounding mournful doom with a gothic touch to the feelings and atmosphere. Fans of old Theatre Of Tragedy and Flowing Tears & Withered Flowers (especially under that name) will like Left Hand Solution. The band has gone on hiatus a couple of times, but they'll always come back just the same. They did in 2018, and last year's Through The Mourning Woods album was promising - a little bit doom, a little bit psychedelic with some variations in there. It's quite nice, because I was worried that there wouldn't be any doom there anymore, but it is still there.
An image of a wailing blackbird
Embedded in my chest
My heart bleeds the tainted purity
Of this emptiness
This is one of a million death metal bands out there, with little of its own, just all standard death metal ideas incorporated; Syn:drom is a simple death metal onslaught like zombified countrymen Aeon, who have their own manifestation of slaughter with guitars. The band has two albums, the latest of which, Iconoclasm, was released in 2013. In 2016, the band announced on their Facebook page that they were working on new stuff, but since then they have been as silent as the grave. If you are into death metal, you might want to check this band out.
Setherial are old-school black metal blasphemers a la 1349, Taake, and Gorgoroth; with grim, evil faces, the band creates eternal chaos in the winter skies. Like a pack of wolves they break out into the cold air and create an aurora borealis in the Nordic firmament. The band's album covers are interesting; they are closer to the more modern, atmospheric black metal bands, not so much the St. Ann-worshiping hordes. Their music is cold and grim as Mother North herself in her raging storm of madness. Their EP För Dem Mitt Blod and their first album, Nord, are in Swedish, and the rest are in English. The band's last offering, the EP Firestorms, was released in 2013. The band members worship true blasphemy and are self-declared outcasts, which is why they have not created a Facebook page - that way, the darkness that surrounds the band is much thicker.
Blackened night, growes of north; my dark abode
All senses set to mind as moonlight hits the snow
Sargoth was a promising black metal band in which Dark Funeral met the melody and melancholy of Dissection. The band managed to master their sound by way of the blasphemous demo Mörkrets Anlete in 1995 and, in 1999, their only album, Lay Eden In Ashes. The album features typical black metal riffing and insane drumming, attached to fast-blasting moments in this journey through the old pre-internet days, back when an album and the music on it had much greater value. Later, the band vanished into deep forest blackness, where they will forever dwell (unless something weird happens).
Furious winds will set paradise into chaos,
Fire will spread like diseases from land to land
The sky will turn red with the blood of dying angels
Crying in pain and agony
A new flood of sin approaches the earth, this time will it last forever?
Millennium after millennium
The goat and his thousand young's will rise from boiling water
And under the black banner will they march towards the garden Eden
No mercy will be shown, none shall survive the wrath of the infernal majesty
Prepare to lay Eden in ashes
The formation of two In Battle members, John Östlund Sandin and John Frölén, Odhinn was named after the old god who once ruled the halls of the North and listened to metal in Valhalla. Odhinn can be described as a "Viking" metal band: it has black metal elements, some death metal tunes, symphonic parts, and an amazing atmosphere throughout the music. Picture a mix between Dimmu Borgir and Arcturus with some Vintersorg - and, yes, it seems that they listened to Bathory. This is a very underrated band, one for the chosen few who understand old Scandinavian mythology. They released one EP, From A Splendorous Battle, and one album, The North Brigade, both in 1998. After that, there has not been much activity; the members seem to have moved on and left the band to rest, maybe forever.
Elder gods of the north!
Elder gods of the north
Come forth from the highest
Mountain from the deepest
Ground from the burning
Fire, from the mighty oceans
Archaic winds blow, opening up the womb of mutilated blasphemers - and four brothers are born, vocals, guitars, bass, and drums their names. This band's music is traditional black metal - like that garage sound, but with true drums instead of programming and a bit of atmospheric black metal in the vein of the old demo days. They are pure, primitive, and evil, just as their forefathers preached b(l)ack in Norway. The band has one EP and two full-lengths, with no activity on their Facebook page since 2016.
My Own Grave
This is something of a hybrid band, a modern-sounding band that mixes death, thrash, and, I might say, a bit of groove and black. Could we even say metalcore? We could, though I wouldn't label them such either. My Own Grave is too big for some, so I can't leave it out, but it's not my kind of band, so I don't want to waste too much time talking about it. The band's latest album, Necrology, was released in 2009, and their last Facebook update was in 2015. Has the coffin closed?
The gathering of the damned!
The armies of hell will walk this earth!
The gathering of the damned!
I'm trapped within beyond!
This is a band for everyone; it can satisfy the doomsters, heavy metal fans, and also rockers, even though it's not a rock band! I would say that Atlantean Kodex, Spirit Adrift, and Crypt Sermon fans will like them. Maybe the band's road to success was not as bright as Candlemass, but they were a powerful player in the metal game, with their own way to write the same music as other bands and make it good. In 2018, the band broke up for 6 months because longtime drummer Andreas Häggström refused to play live gigs. Christian Rönningen stepped in as a replacement and the band announced on their official website that they were working on new music. In 2019, they played a few shows in Sweden, so we can wait and see what happens.
Is there tomorrow
At the end of this day?
Will I follow you or will I stay?
My dearest friend
Is this the beginning
Or is this the end?
Is this the end?
I found out about this band on the radio in the pre-internet days, and they wowed me. It was at a time when I listened to "classics" like Van Halen, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Ozzy Osbourne? The heaviest band we garage-head-bangers had was Cannibal Corpse, though later I found out about black metal radio, Metal Storm, and the Metal Archives, and the rest is history. This band's albums, In Battle (1997) and The Rage Of The Northmen (1998), are more like classic black metal, but the last two, [i]Welcome To The Battlefield (2004) and Kingdom Of Fear (2007), are a mix between black and death metal similar to today's benchmark, Schammasch. I enjoy the first two albums a lot; it's aggressive, with insane, blasting drumming, and the atmosphere is like the artwork: you are on that dragon ship, raging into battle and crushing your enemy's bones to win the fight. Those two are fast albums, but there's no such thing as speed black metal; otherwise some Venom-worshiping cassette maniacs would mess it all up. Sadly, I can't say much about the last two albums, as I never enjoyed them as much; it's like if Morbid Angel started playing black metal in their garage studio. Sorry, not my cup of black coffee.
The band has been on hiatus since 2008.
Armies of the northern realms
March for glory
Armies of the northern realms
Some bands create melancholic music full of emotions; others create destruction and chaos. This is one of those bands that don't create art, but destroy old people's brain cells with aggressive, insane drumming, double-bass sound systems, and that kind of weird singing that we know as growling. The music is the same, same, same, like you're going on your usual rounds or on your way to work or the local boozer for 60 years in a row. It's the same classic DM riffs and sound; no new tricks, just old, rotten maggots. It's a formula that many bands have mastered and many have learned to like. Gluttony is a death metal band in every way the genre describes, and even brutal deathheads and grinders can enjoy their music - perhaps Metal Storm's lost son JN? Their latest album, Cult Of The Unborn, was released in 2018 on Vic Records.
This band has covered the Rolling Stones's "Paint It Black." It doesn't sound like anything. I listened to it just for fun and, well, it's nothing, just horrible music. This isn't the band for me; I wouldn't listen to their music unless I were paid a lot.
Back to the mid-'90s spirit here: no internet, no Metal Storm, no ShoutBox nutters, just local lads and tape-trading; inspiration was what others told you, what you said, heard, or read, only other Scandinavian bands, local nature, and the cold winter days. This is still before the period when bands started worshiping Odin and the other old gods, unless you were listening to Amon Amarth's demo tapes. The mid-to-late-'90s were when those extreme metal bands started to create darkness through poetry; they tried to write poetic and philosophical lyrics to black metal, death-doom, gothic doom, and pure gothic metal. This is one such band and it's 100% my kind of band: a vampire that wanders around in the frozen woods, dark candles in a window, a lady with a glass of wine and a ritual knife. Winter always stays here longer than you thought, so you might as well play some black metal; this has speed, fast riffs, soft keyboards, harsh male singing, and a female guest vocalist to add some softness and harmony. It's all there; this is a band at the top level of its genre. The band has two albums and it seems that some time around 2000 they vanished into the crimson wasteland.
Your womb always bled the sweetest of blood
Let me taste it, let me smell your inner lust
Leaving bloody marks of my dried-out lips
All around your vagina, down on your hips
I may be old
But I still breathe
Therefore I am
I may be old
But I still move
And lead this dance
Timrå is a small village about 60 km north of Sundsvall. The only social life there revolves around the hockey team, Timrå IK.
As time goes on, some stay put in the past, living in '80s glamour, neon nights, and the Friday-night parties that never seem to stop. Though metal is getting heavier and Bathory is entering its epic era, real Swedish black metal is not yet properly born; many young bands are deciding to play death metal, such as Unleashed and Edge Of Sanity, while Candlemass is struggling to survive. The "melodic" modifier is unknown in the black and death metal genres; some bands instead decide to play heavy metal (Axe Witch, Heavy Load) or hard rock (Europe in their pop era) and so the party never ends. Moahni Moahna is a classic mix of those genres and its time period - a little bit later, but still the '80s never die. At least, not until guitarist Henrik Flyman joins Evil Masquerade and relocates to Denmark.
Located close to the Norwegian border in middle of Sweden, Östersund is the home of the Swedish biathlon team, winter sports and also alpine skiing location is located in Åre(even Abisko, Riksgränsen in way far north can offer better services :p ) , Nature and suroundings are great there, biggest city in middle of ''nowhere'' far away from sea, E4 highway.
This newly formed metal force, with one EP to its name thus far, represents the true sound of heavy metal as all bands old and new have tried to play it; sometimes it works, sometimes not, but here you can see that the band has the energy and the motivation to jump higher. Widundret won't reach the Hammersmith Odeon or sell out Wembley - none of today's bands will - but they can go far on this one EP. Now everything is up to them and the stars.
The Equinox Ov The Gods
Formed in 1990, this is a band that could be described as King Diamond meeting up with a traditional epic doom band and joining in to sing in his own style (or half-singing, half-screaming once you add some whisky to the vocals). His lame horror stories are turned into doom stories with a doom metal lyrical approach and great keyboards that mix with good guitar riffs and a female guest vocalist to lay down some vocal lines. It's like being told a story while there's music on, reading a book or poetry over music, or maybe the other way around, where you read the lyrics or your own stories and the band improvises behind you.
Don't dream about Lake Of Tears, as they are not alike, but perhaps you could still think of Daniel Brennare and his poetry. This band has its own "groovy" old-school sound held over from the garage era; even though their albums are made in a studio, they still have that touch in their sound. The Equinox Ov The Gods is a unique band, no copycat, and none has ever copied this band and its own sound of doom, some kind of church doom - hey, Bart Simpson, maybe you can play it there in Springfield. To understand this band, you need to listen to all of their albums and let the ravens fly. They have four studio albums, one EP, and four demos; the latest album, Fragments Of Lust & Decay, came out in 2009, and there have been no updates to the band's Facebook page since 2015.
A last kiss, goodbye
A last kiss
For the joy
The devil smiled
As you spread your wings
The Raven flies?
This is melodic death metal. Sound simple? Yes, it does, but this is a band that has a strong modern touch; all the mid-'90s magic in the "melodic" descriptor is lost. It's like cosmic, futuristic? apocalyptic metal in the song titles and artwork, and I dislike those things. Scar Symmetry comes to my mind and I dislike that band - and they sound a bit like Hypocrisy, another band that I can't get into so easily, even though some of their melodies are good. I cannot say much about Souldrainer; it's not my kind of band. But at the same time, thinking that maybe live they are not so bad, I checked out a few live videos and the band has energy that they pour into their gigs; live and on YouTube I like them better, but I can't get into their studio albums. I'd rather go to Finland to listen to Omnium Gatherum, another band that's hard for me to get into.
The band is regularly active on social media.
Awaken, looking at my scars
They hurt and I shiver from cold
Something was taken from me
I can feel it's missing inside
This band split up in 2017, but they played amazing gothic metal with a kind of romantic flair; they created a lot of feelings, but something is missing. It's like grown-ups trying to go back to their childhood; there are some individuals out there who refuse to grow up, and this is the case here. We have good solos and keyboard parts, the music mixes together well, and there are some good vocal lines - the singer tries to achieve something with the clean vocals and in some ways it works, others not. If you know anything about gothic metal, you know what this sounds like. My favorite song is "Fading Away."
The summoning has begun
I feel the heaven inside my heart, she rises to feed the night
The summoning has begun
I feel the heaven inside my heart, he rides the sky tonight
This one-man black metal band, led by Henrik Sunding, a.k.a. Nachtzeit, plays an atmospheric kind of black metal with other symphonic and ambient elements mixed in. It's black metal on the top level, but the band has a tendency to create long songs and albums of usually three to four tracks without titles. If you look at their discography, it's all "Part I," "Part II," and so on, a very generic song title that destroys the music - in my opinion, it's laziness and a lack of inspiration. I know some people adore such things, but not I; in my opinion, true black metal must have song titles written in letters with meaning. One album is OK, though it's way deep into the ambient sound, and they get further and further from metal. I don't usually converse with people who listen to this style, unless you're Che, Radu, or Rod.
Year after year, deeply they slept
in the dark neath a thick crystal blanket.
Yet, year after year.
They awoke to the warm light of day
If you look at a picture of the band and their album artwork, you would think that they played black metal - but this is death metal, old-school, primitive death metal from a time when men had long hair, jeans, and leather jackets and they did not give a damn about ladies or perfume. Metal was life and the music followed. You might hear Sinister, Morbid Angel, and other bands from that period, but also old-Entombed-sounding compositions; it's death metal as it was played in that time. For today, it's good for peace of mind to listen and remember what old-school death metal from that time period actually sounds like. The band split up in 1999 and some of the members went on to form Aeon.
...speaking of Aeon, they also play death metal and it works; they found their own formula, their own crowd, their own way to play, but there is no inspiration, nothing, just the time-tested values of death metal - even a death metal rip-off, if we could say so. The band has four albums and none of them is a favorite of mine; just raging, antireligious speed. It's as if when Defaced Creation died something else died and this new, reborn creation has no soul. Their album Aeons Black, which is their latest, from 2012, was in my playlist, and it's okay. I think it's their best - they punch out harder and started something special - but there's still nothing of the old band to count on.
In 2019, the band announced that Finnish drummer Timo Häkkinen had joined them in the grave and guitarist Daniel Dlimi, who had left in 2013, returned to the ranks.
I am darkness,
The freezing wind
I am death,
It's anyone's guess whether Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla would like metal, but electricity certain does - first AC/DC, and now this band has an electric name as well. And it's electric - this band plays heavy metal and hard rock; we could draw parallels to the Norwegian band TNT. In older albums, you hear influences from all the bands that came before: Judas Priest, Scorpions, and many others. You could say it's a typical European early metal band! It's an old band, formed in the late '70s, and has survived many power outages and storm-created blackouts. The band put out the lights in 1992 and came back to the scene in 2002. They changed their style a bit from the '80s metal sound, adopting more of an adult style; no more '80s fashion and loverboy things, more decent metal and rock in the music. It's a time when the music matters, not how you look. The band is active on the live front in Sweden.
Dreamin' of you all the time
Makin' me cold as ice
This town gave us one of Sweden's heroes, Peter Forsberg. It's a small town; driving through, you will see a ski jump center there, and that's about it. There are no other things to mention unless you are local and don't know Kalle from the street. Nature is amazing around there if you love true Nordic landscapes: forests, valleys, and water. Höga Kusten is an amazing area of Sweden and I recommend it if you are in the middle of Sweden.
A small-town band with small-town issues and a small-town life story; as a young man, you start a metal band, but later you get a real job, grow up, and have children, and the metal man is dead. This band has a bunch of demoes, one EP, and one album, Undead Supremacy, from 2012. There have been no social media updates since 2015. The band's style can be described as when melodic death metal a la At The Gates grinds up with death'n'rollers Entombed. Vocalist Johan Brandberg is known for his work with the Swedish Fleshgod Apocalypse, Meadows End.
Like I just said, this is the Swedish Fleshgod Apocalypse. If you look at the band's image, photos, and genre descriptions on paper and in practice, to me, they are similar bands. There are death metal riffs, melodic riffs, and keyboard parts as in symphonic metal all mixed together in a unique boiler that gives the band its own sound. There are many symphonic black metal bands, but few symphonic death metal bands - the Greek Septicflesh and Australian Empyrean come to mind. In some way, there is a gothic feeling surrounding this band, like that of Atrocity or Crematory. Their influences are mixed with their own ideas and theories about how metal should sound. 2019's opus, The Grand Antiquation, is a new peace in melodic death metal tranquility; it has its own style and its own raging madness and it seems it will never stop. A stable lineup is a key factor to success; each member knows what they can create in the metal chaos.
Or, after their name change, Destynation. It sounds as though we're looking into the years of a long-lived power metal band, but if we check out their discography, it's quite poor for both names; just two full-lengths, 2002's Tales Of Power (which was a more fantasy-oriented album) and 2006's Rising Up (which was more science fiction). Typical Avantasia, Edguy, Masterplan, and Nocturnal Rites fans would like it. The band, it seems, is dead, because no information is available about their activities.
This is a big student town, maybe on an equal level to Uppsala; there are big hospitals, but at the same time the local hockey team, Umeå Björklöven, struggles to come out on top as they did in the '80s. It being a student town, 50%, maybe even 60%, are students who create the social life: events, parties, and basically making sure that the nightlife and partying never stop. If you are young and running wild and free and you like Swedish melancholy, it is the place for you.
Science-fiction-inspired melodic death metal, totally alone in the front with the few who understand sci fi. The music is okay, top-level like the so-called Gothenburg bands from Sweden and more for fans of old In Flames and Scar Symmetry; fans of Finnish cosmos riders Omnium Gatherum can enjoy it as well. I don't like the band, the ideas they sing about, or their artwork; it's typical stuff for modern cyberfreak metalheads with hip-hop trousers and football jerseys. Not my type of band. According to the band's Facebook, they are working slowly on a new album to follow up 2012's Arrival Of The Red Sun.
Kill or be killed, that's reality
Know that suffering is real
We slave to this world of infamy
It will ravage the breed
Same story as with Zonaria: this band plays melodic death metal, though it focuses not on sci fi but on St. Ann. The band has three albums and none can catch my ear; the music is okay, but it's fading away from me. Their latest album, Murder Messiah, was released in 2011; the band is quiet on Facebook, but it says they're not dead.
New world order that feeds, and implores death world wide
Your salvation is just lies and fucking chains!
This is a one-man band that plays funeral doom like Ahab mixed with Doom:VS and Bell Witch, with slow, long, mournful guitars weeping before the funeral bells toll. You can also hear a bit of death-doom in which fans of October Tide, Noekk, and Kaunum can find their own beauty. I can see the Forest Of Shadows formula here as well; both are one-man bands with similar tastes and complexity. If you like long songs, like 15-20 minutes long, and some good chaos in the music, this is your band. It has growls, it has singing, it has metal, it has all that you like. Somehow When Nothing Remains fans could enjoy it, as they play something similar. The music is not heavy, but it gives emotional healing during the wintertime. Since when is funeral doom heavy? It isn't and never will be. This is funeral doom, so don't expect old Paradise Lost; this band doesn't play that kind of death-doom either.
The band has two good full-lengths: The Longing For The Tides Of Metamorphosis and ...The Rain Of Ash..., both from 2014. You could compare these two to Katatonia's Dance Of December Souls and Brave Murder Day era. Those are the same, but they are not the same. The band's latest single, "I Will See The Storm Arise," came out in 2017.
Touching the window, abhoring the sun
I, I know, I don't, I don't belong here
This is an astral circle of sludge metal with weird influences. I am not professional enough to write about that genre, because it's alien to me, weird music unless it's old-school Crowbar or Acid Bath. This band has its own fan base and a few albums; the latest one was out in January of last year, entitled Unveilance Of Dark Matter. The reason for mentioning this band is that they are from the same town as a band that I dislike with a heavy passion, Cult Of Luna. Both bands have the same fan base in Umeå and in the world, but the other one has greater international success.
This is a new band arising from the horizon in the middle of Sweden, trying to be like their hometown heroes Naglfar in their attitude, but sounding a bit more melodic like countrymates Wormwood. They have some calm parts in the black metal, a bit of a softer side, but it's not gothic; they're pure black metal maniacs. In keeping with new tendencies thanks to computers, they have a Bandcamp, another internet wonder on the order of Facebook; the band has no demos, just two EPs and one full-length, Wrath Of The Wilds, from 2018. The band has a second album in the works; stay tuned.
In the old days, this wasn't a feasible release plan; you needed to have demoes in cassette form to send to some label. Now we can just select "Unsigned" on Metal Storm or the Metal Archives and the band can still have a great demo or even an EP out by themselves. And don't forget to click the "buy" button!
Woods Of Infinity
This was a blasphemous black metal butcher unit that liked to sing and write lyrics in Swedish; some kind of a garage band, right? No, not even that, it seems, and the band did not have the best quality of albums, as it should be for depressive black metal. It will also seem offensive to sensitive people, but that trick hasn't really worked in the last decade, so let this band stay in its grave; it has been dead since 2012.
This was a short-lived one-man band led by Tobias Hellgren. The band released two demos and then vanished. I was lucky enough to hear both demoes and they were stunning, the best aspects of heavy metal and power metal mixed together into one decent flow. When I heard Broken Dagger's demoes I knew that they were a unique band and that no one would ever play the way they did; it's the same here. So far, no other bands have managed this sound. I need to dig into my old CDs; I still have those demoes, downloaded from the old home page. Old ways, old times.
Same old story about shit that grows after the rain (I mean mushrooms). This band is one of many that came about in the 2010s, created one album (2012's Addict), and then died. Well, in 2018, the band came back with a new vocalist and composed two new songs, but then no more news came. How can we describe the band's music? It's thrash metal with some groove: a bit groovy thrash metal, a bit Pantera mixed with old-school thrash and original compositions.
A power metal band, further down the path of Sonata Arctica than others, and so a bit cheesy to me, with more pop elements and an overall pop sound as well. I don't know what else to add.
This is a band that plays hardcore, crust punk, d-beat, etc., similar to Skellefteå's Totalt Jävla Mörker and Luleå's Raset Fist, but this band doesn't jump around onstage; they just have aggressive energy and an aggressive attitude. They're a hardcore band, so it's funny to think that it includes some Cult Of Luna members (they're there; feel free to Google it :p). The band is relatively active on the live front as well.
A one-man project (almost) from Umeå, a rare thing in the '80s; that one man, Steve Redstorm, did vocals, guitars, bass, and keyboards, with only drums recorded by Jens Jokineen. In modern times, you'd think it would be black metal, not in the style of ladies' bands like Winger, Ratt, Poison, etc. (hey, Jon Bon Jovi, where are you?). Mr. Steve Redstorm, why'd you copy Yngwie's work? Another fact is that the keyboards here are as soft as if Kip Winger had played them, but the guitar tells you that you can rock. Somehow this was a lone wolf on the wrong side of the ocean; nobody in Europe expected such music to come from a European. And then he vanished. Where he went, nobody knows.
You're gonna make it through your soul
You have to try it all you can
Another one of "those" bands that came around playing old-school thrash, releasing a couple of EPs and an album, and then vanishing. They were thrashing from 2008 to 2015 until the band got its foot stuck in the grave because of a lack of inspiration. Imagine young teenage geezers with ripped jeans and leather jackets patched with Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction patches and playing like Americans. You can guess the kind of music they played.
A decent player, not so known to newcomers to the metal scene. This band plays heavier power metal; if you like old Blind Guardian's sound mixed with Savage Circus's energy, you might like it. The band's roots are in speed, heavy, and all the NWOBHM that most people listened to when they were young. The band puts all the good things from the past into their own music. In February 2019, they announced that they were mixing a new album; Necromancy, their fifth, was eventually released at the end of 2020 and made it into the 2020 Metal Storm Awards.
Together at heart, but weak in spirits
Formation facing, what's left behind
Taking turns in surrendering
To the faceless world
Turn out the light
From the veil of mystery
Do I need to introduce this band? They may be the biggest band from Umeå. Just as many bands (Sentenced, for example) played death metal in their demo era and later changed their sound, so did this band, though they wound up playing power metal. In the early power metal days, this band was more of a Blind Guardian-/Helloween-sounding band in its own way, but later it became more like Freedom Call, Edguy, or Avantasia with its own interpretation, a bit darker in some way. Something post-apocalyptic, I might say. Maybe that's because vocalist Anders Zackrisson was replaced in 2000 by Jonny Lindqvist. Somehow this band has been forgotten by the Metal Storm community; I hope I will revive the interest in them.
From the veil of mystery
The birth of time will soon begin,
for all to see
While tomorrow fades away
Welcome to the poisoned land
As all towers fall
This is an archaic band formed in 1992, when black metal was brand new and bands took inspiration from death metal, the first wave of black metal, and each other. They released just two demoes before the major hit Vittra was out in 1995, and they reached the stars with it; it was one of the unique early black metal masterpieces that was released 15 years before its time. Later, the band changed a bit in their artwork, lyrics, and song titles, equal to German black metal bands Aeba and Geïst (Eïs). The band has sort of weird song titles, but they deliver awesome-quality black metal with insane drumming and riffs; it's like atmospheric black metal without the "atmospheric" descriptor. Their melodies - yes, we can call them so - blaze around and rip you apart. It's primitive melodic black metal in some ways, from before that genre was born, all created with simple guitars and drums. In some ways the Greek Kawir is similar (just saying). I had the chance to see the band live once, and it was a blast - a killer gig.
What you could say about one album, you could basically say about all of them; they changed a bit through time, but it's the same band that gives 100% to what it does. In 2005, singer Jens Rydén left and bassist Kristoffer Olivius took over. The main songwriter, guitarist Andreas Nilsson, has still stood strong since he beginning, but the band does sound like it's missing guitarist Morgan Hansson (1992-2000), because the only two albums with him have such an old-school touch.
Before the autumn storms arrive, it is time to enslave the astral fortress because the twilight gives birth to the night. This may be one of the best early black metal bands to come from Sweden, because I never liked Marduk, Dark Funeral, or Watain. After eight years outside the studio, the band released its seventh album, Cerecloth, in May 2020.
And then she came forth, the forest goddess
Her crying hymns were calling for me
I followed her through the eternal vast forest
And so, so I found myself lost there in...
Another band that keeps on hiding in darkness and shadows; the less you know about the members (of whom there are two), the better. Some people talk about orthodox black metal - well, here you have it. The band creates its own atmosphere, but it still sounds like a programmed-drum garage-demo band. They can create journeys through dark lands in their music, but they need to catch up with the times, be more social, and also use a better studio.
In the '80s, a TV hero inspires you and you are out on the streets again looking for action, but the only way you can get action is to form a hair band. Many towns and cities had such bands with a few demoes, but this band actually managed to record an album - 1994's From The Icefields - before they died. Jonny Lindqvist from [band[Nocturnal Rites[/band] was part of this band during their demo period, not on that album.
The band played a reunion show in Umeå in 2012. I was planning to attend, but... traveling and concerts and I, we are not best mates. The band played around Sweden, especially Norrland, and later moved to Stockholm (because it's easy to make a living playing live there) and in 1988 even moved to California; this was short-lived, and the band returned to Sweden in 1995. It died out that same year.
Not my band; I won't waste my time talking about this one. I only mention them because they are maybe the biggest band from Umeå if we look at big-picture shit.
Around that time, new thrash metal bands rose from nowhere and played old-school thrash metal 20 years after the gods: same level, same energy, only it was 20 years later.
I have always said that true metalheads master more than five genres, not merely one, and listen to more than 300 bands, not five regularly. That's a fact; metal has many genres and it's a huge family. Naglfar's Morgan Hansson and Marcus Norman (a.k.a. Vargher, also of several other bands) created this project as an '80s-Sisters Of Mercy-worshiping act that would embrace a modern gothic metal sound like Beseech, wherein Andreas "Vintersorg" Hedlund sounds like Ville Laihiala. There is no brutality here, just softness; the main factor that makes the music good is the emotions.
The band has only one album and in many years there has been no major news.
When you see Kreator and Destruction clones, you think, do we need clones, ripoffs, and bands that sound the same? Do we? This band copies the gods in a good way, just like flying razor blades that make you cum big and do it four times because the TV tells you. Well, this is thrash metal and it's higher-level for people who worship only thrash. For others, I don't know.
The band's status is unknown nowadays. Fredrik Mannberg and Nils Eriksson started it as a side project of Nocturnal Rites in the mid-'90s.
Grand Delusion is a modern band that tries to play serious music. We on MS like to talk typical X or Y band stuff with other people via PM - well, this is the new generation that thinks it likes doom, stoner, heavy, and other genres. Nothing to add.
This band's intro story is about the same as Mogg's, but that band went a bit further in their tours and travel measures. This band was born in 1980 with a few demoes, one single, an EP, and the 1984 album The Unknown before dying in 1987. Björn Erik Melander and Jonas Östman left the band for Mogg; it seems that at the time Umeå was too small for two cool cats in the town. The band's biggest future star was Anders Zackrisson, who was the singer in Nocturnal Rites in the '90s.
The band's sound can be described as '80s metal that was influenced by NWOBHM and other popular bands at the time, mixed with their idols and their own riffs into one form of music. The Unknown is a classic '80s metal piece on which each song has a different structure, like old Accept. The main downfall is the lame studio work; the band needed a better-quality studio.
This is not a horror movie, nor is it a folk metal band, nor is it an ensemble of fishermen. This band plays melodic death metal as all Swedish bands under that subgenre do or at one point did. The band's image is like that of 19th-century fishermen and it seems that they know about Alestorm. The band started in 2009 and has two EPs, one demo, and one album; they announced in 2013 that they were working on a new opus, but the band's status has been unknown since 2014.
The sea was silent, before the storm
The winds blew strong
We went down
The waves, felt like a whip
As they smashed our ship
Sank to the
If you like melodic death metal, this could be for you, but if you don't like the demo sound, ignore this band. They started in 1992 and have a bunch of demoes and one compilation, and they have been dead on the recording front since 2012. The band has potential, energy, and ideas, so why they never recorded a full-length studio album is a mystery, but they can't be deleted from Umeå metal history. The members were involved in other bands in Umeå, but it seems they all ended in approximately 2014.
A group of young thrashers came into the scene when other thrash bands arose, and those young men had the potential to be something bigger - but they were doomed to thrash in Umeå and after two demoes vanished.
Dead Silent Slumber
Native son of Umeå Jens Ryden, while fronting Naglfar, decided to go a bit sideways from his main band and launched this side project in which he did everything alone (using some guest vocalists and musicians). He left Naglfar in 2005 and between then and 2007 he relocated to Stockholm and joined Thyrfing.
If you like true metal, if you like black metal, this is a band that you should hear once. Look at the booklet, at the artwork, and you can tell this will be something - indeed it is, and it still is. Not many know of this project, only a few, but the riffs are insane, the drumming is insane, the lyrics are top-level; it's all there. It's a bit like Dissection, though more melodic, and there is some death metal, some choirs, and some small ambient parts as well. Like I said, if you like true metal, this is for you.
The winds kept embracing me
Filling me with its decay
As I fixed my eyes on the moonlight tombs
in ruins surrounded in black
These catacombs, these distant graves
almost seemed to glow
Closing in as they called for me
Cult Of Luna
Not my band, just mentioned not to hurt somebody's feelings!
Another band featuring some Naglfar members, a band whose style is hard to define: is it black, thrash, speed, etc.? It's a primitive-sounding band like the first wave of black metal, Venom, Mercyful Fate, and older Bathory, and how Norwegian black metal bands were in the demo era when they played death metal is not forgotten. All of that is mixed here, and it's the band's downfall. But they don't care; they just rage over and play music that they love. We might say that if Lemmy were to don corpse paint he would fit into this band as well. It's blackened rock'n'roll.
Maybe the best band that Naglfar members started, now Marcus E. Norman's band alone. It's amazing melodic black metal, like sitting near a bonfire in the freezing winter and waiting for the aurora to come, asking yourself philosophical questions about nature, surviving the coldest night. It's melodic, slow, a bit ambient, neoclassical - all dark metal elements are blended into the same composition, with poetic lyrics as well. It's all about the north, the cold, the winter, and the snow, almost like Immortal if we were to look at the lyrics. Imagine that you're listening to Agalloch here; it's brilliant, black metal for the chosen ones who truly understand it, something to discuss with Ulf Theodor Schwadorf.
The northern wind
Blows above the frozen ground
And the sky is as black
As the eyes of a raven
The arctic moon
Reflects in the crystal snow
And the forests are dark
In this cold, eternal winter night
In this, the darkest night of the north
Shiver is a four-piece band that mixes stoner metal and doom in a way that makes you think it's a sort of good-quality old doom band from the past. Orange Goblin meets Count Raven and makes good music. Oh, yes, imagine if Johanna Sadonis were to do vocals for such a band. It's too slow for stoner, too loud for doom; if there were a female drummer, it would be a perfect female band, but they need to think about promotion, i.e. Bandcamp and online streams. Local gigs three times a year can dig a grave for any band. I have seen it for local bands.
Vanity Insanity is a hard rock/heavy metal/glam rock/glam metal band. From my concert review:
"When W.A.S.P. meets Skid Row and a ballad saves the day - that's Vanity Insanity. In the middle of their set, the band played a ballad, something a bit like Skid Row's "Quicksand Jesus." The band was great; the sad thing was that I didn't know the lyrics or the songs. It was simply an unknown band to me. Like I always tell people, you should check out the music scene that has developed since you left high school. There are much better bands out there than the old ones who can't put out a decent record after 10 years in the business. Better than Mötley Crüe today, anyway. Simply kickass - and their last song was a cover of Motörhead's "Killed By Death."
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