Reviewed: March 2019
Released: 2019, Suicide Records
Brothers Aghora and Dödfödd consider themselves to be bonded by more than just blood.
Sharing a mutual interest in the dark workings of the human mind, they have described Là-Bas as “a desperate cry from the subconscious.”
It is entirely conceivable that these dark themes have been influenced by a series of mental health problems that (by the band’s own account) shut the Blodskam down at the turn of the millennium. It wasn’t until 2014 that Aghora and Dödfödd – now residing in the Swedish districts of Dalarna and Stockholm – restarted the band, wrote new material and finished some of the old songs.
They drafted in Kim Filppu from Convivium to perform drums on the album session, and describe the result as “raw and twisted; spanning from relentless, ultra fast riffs to slow brooding parts.”
According to the band, Là-Bas is intended as a story of psychosis, hallucinations, endless floors and corridors full of filth, that show a glimpse of an enclosed institution of human decay. The band emphasise how each song stands on its own, but they also reveal a common thread that can be seen as part of a greater narrative.
They ask, “What is real and what is just drug fuelled imagination?”
With all these expectations in mind, it’s easy to acclimatize to Blodskam’s rough and grimy delivery. The opening bars of Bödel set a tone that is largely adhered to throughout the six songs presented across Là-Bas.
I am reminded of latter-day, Arctic Thunder era Darkthrone. There’s something in the lurching, Sabbathy pull that should appeal to any metalhead who likes their blackened riffs to veer towards a sneering groove.
From here the band pull off some effective stylistic shifts, showcasing a good understanding of the foundations that heavy metal is built on. Guitars are driven over strident rhythms, occasionally breaking out into rapid-fire cascades or slowing down to a filthy dirge, perfectly suiting Dödfödd’s tormented growl.
My Home is an album highlight. It takes a picked guitar refrain, played at a slower tempo, and uses it to conveys the psychotic atmosphere that Blodskam say they set out to create.
On the faster songs, such as Routines, the band achieve the same effect by using layers of vibrating, discordant guitars. It all adds up to an appealing manic energy that rewards with repeated listens.
Of particular note are the occasional moments of beauty in the madness. The Machines breaks its desperate cry with a moment of triumphant, half time melody that nudges this record a bit further up the Album’s You Really Ought To Check Out list for 2019.
Ending on a hypnotic, industrial clatter, Là-Bas is a brief listen, but with the benefit of it not outstaying its welcome. Instead it just delivers a spirited and deranged slice of Swedish metal that deserves some time in your headphones.