Reviewed: January 2020
Released: November 2019, Big Balls Productions
Twelve years into their career, and this five piece from Sweden are keen to emphasise the potency of their newest release.
To be honest, you can probably draw your own conclusions from the 23 minute running time and a title that translates as “A Shitload Of Suffering!” You just know this isn’t going to pull any punches or waste any time.
To give us some idea of what to expect, Strykjärn’s drummer Martin Kadhammar name-checks the band’s influences as Chimaira, The Black Dahlia Murder, LOK & Totalt Jävla Mörker.
He elaborates: “We are proud and excited to finally release our first album since 2014. It’s a 6 track, angry-as-hell album, pounding you with relentless social criticism, a strong anti-establishment punk attitude (and) a quite unorthodox style of blended hardcore & death metal rather than the more straightforward hardcore/punk-inspired musical orientation you’d normally expect from a band chanting these lyrical themes.” He goes on to say, “you’ll be headbanging ’til your head drops, guaranteed!”
The only way to know for sure is to get involved, so I push play. After a few seconds of clean, arpeggiated guitar we are into the hefty push of opening track, Söndrad & Härskad. True to Kadhammer’s word, it’s a muscular crossover in which the groovy metal of Pantera meets the urgent hardcore of a band like Sick Of It All. At times I am reminded of Vision Of Disorder.
It’s important to note that any social or political criticism contained on the disc is lost on me, because the lyrics are all sung in the band’s native tongue. However, with song titles that translate to Everything Must Die and Queues to the Guillotine, I’m going to assume all is presented from a fairly nihilistic point of view. It is certainly delivered with enough venom to convince me that vocalist Filip Fougstedt has complete conviction in his words. One particular highlight is his barked verses on Utdelning på Marginalerna, where he sounds like Glen Benton in a particularly scathing mood.
It’s not all aggression though. Elsewhere, on Köbildning vid Giljotinen the guitars soar to a gloriously melodic place via some brief soloing that adds some colour to the otherwise dark and dense riffing. These momentary glimpses of a less sober band become the point on which this release stands a little taller than I first anticipated. It’s buried under the vitriol, but there are some inspired passages of significant musical creativity woven into the album. Quite an achievement when you consider the fleeting running time. Early on they use a children’s choir to create a foreboding atmosphere and throughout the release the musicians shift in unison as they play around with both dynamics and rhythm, ensuring a sense of momentum and movement. Repeated listens reveal chugs, stabs and small inflections that demonstrate just how tight these guys are. Their attention to detail can’t be faulted.
At the equivalent of just one side of music, Strykjärn have gone for an all killer, no filler approach that pretty much pays off. It IS angry. They DO sound relentless and I’ve no doubt these songs would take on an extra level of ferocity live, so it’s all good really.
To be fair, the band are not reinventing the wheel here, but they do sound honest, and it’s all being played with skill and conviction. Give it some volume. I think you’ll agree.
1. Söndrad & Härskad (Divided & Conquered)
2. Allt Måste Dö (Everything Must Die)
3. Utdelning på Marginalerna (Golden Margins)
4. Köbildning vid Giljotinen (Queues to the Guillotine)
5. Moderaten (The Capitalist)
6. Spegelsalen (Hall of Mirrors)
Filip Fougstedt – Vocals
Martin Kadhammar – Drums
Johnny Alfredsson – Bass
Mikael Kullvén – Guitars
Markus Persson – Guitars