Vid Helvetets Grindar
I spent much of 2008 semi-coherently raving about how Afgrund may be the new Nasum, but the band’s sophomore slab and Willowtip debut, Vid Helvetets Grindar, tells me I was catastrophically wrong.
Afgrund may very well be Sweden’s answer to Kill the fucking Client.
The Nasum influence still looms (particularly in the Miezko/Anders-style vocal tradeoffs), but Afgrund (now trimmed to a trio) escalate the hostility with a more Americanized tinge of aggression and more prominent sludge passages. From the scorched earth artwork through the pyrotechnic assault of songs like “A Future Europe in Flames” and “A Burning Cross on Your Perfect Lawn,” everything on Vid Helvetets Grindar unites to create a holocaust that further refines Svarta Dagar. From needle drop to screeching halt, Afgrund maul their way through 30 minutes of elite Scandi-grind with a Texas-sized bite and one massive chip on their shoulder.
Afgrund nimbly dodge the sophomore slump by reaching deep into their arsenal to highlight new attacks, whether it’s the grind ‘n’ roll of “Loneslavar Sla Tillbaka” or the sinuous, serpentine leads of “The Great Cover Up Apocalypse” (which eradicates the tired Master of Reality retread of “The Empire earlier in the album, a rare misstep).
My only nitpick is that Panu Posti (who once again produced) annihilates the guitars in the mix with his turbine drumming (incidently, Svarta Dagar had the exact opposite problem). But the prominence only klieg lights the intricate fills and stutters of the raging “Inevitable Environmental Collapse” and “Borja Fran Noll.”
Quibbles aside, Vid Helvetets Grindar is an absolutely incendiary album that proves my faith was not misplaced. Look for Afgrund to move up a few more notches on 2009's year end count down.
[Full disclosure: Willowtip sent along a review copy.]