Wednesday, November 26, 2008

G&P review: Afgrund (How Swede It Is Part 2)

Svarta Dagar
This Swedish-Finnish grind collective inhale/exhale the best of their Scandinavian predecessors on their debut full length, and Sayyadina and Gadget had better start looking over their shoulders.
My knowledge of Swedish comes primarily from what I gleaned from the Muppets, but Svarta Dagar means Black Days. For anything more than that, you’re going to have to consult your nearest phrase book or embassy, but from the sound of it, life has left these lads a mite bit perturbed.
Guitar scrapes, spots of feedback and the occasional sludge trudge mix up the blastbeatery of raging Swede-style goodness. Even guitarists Andreas Baier and Patrik Howe’s vocal tradeoffs remind me of early Nasum mic duels between Anders Jakobson and Mieszko Talarcyk.
Stretching their songs out to the two minute mark or longer, Afgrund give their music enough room to breathe and expand that actually allows for some movement and dynamic tension in the space of a grind tune. The guitars hint at ominous melodies, the bass rumbles with fuzzed out crunch and drummer Panu Posti knows when to reel in the blastbeats in service of the song as a whole.
Remixed by the ubiquitous Scott Hull, Svarta Dagar is still a tad too muffled, sapping that necessary punch out of their playing, but it’s good enough to highlight the band’s aggression and songwriting chops.
Adding the nine tracks from their split with Relevant Few for a total playing time of nearly 50 minutes, Svarta Dagar may be a smidgen overlong for one sitting, but that’s just bitching about too much of a good thing.
It would be premature to crown Afgrund the next Nasum, but they are not someone to be missed if you still mourn the Swedish titan’s loss. Given their pedigree and clear songwriting talent, I’m already hotly anticipating what they will offer next because, clearly, they are slaves to the grind. This is what it’s all about; this is why they play.

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