If there's one thing you can rely on, it's that any time someone posts about Ghost, someone feels the burning urge to take to the comment section and complain. And we get it. We write about Ghost a lot - they’re a big deal, but not everyone’s convinced by Tobias Forge’s crepuscular codpiece. So, as 2022 starts to curl up and die, we thought we’d spotlight some of Ghost’s fellow citizens of Sweden.
Not Sabaton, Watain, or anything like that. Instead, we went for newer, underground bands with dirt under their nails and logos Egyptologists couldn’t begin to decipher. Say your prayers, grab a cinnamon bun and get ready for some trve kvlt noise – here are ten obscure Swedish records that made 2022 just a little frostier.
Floating – The Waves Have Teeth
Much like its government’s approach towards alcohol, Sweden has a monopoly on old-school death metal. Floating’s first record employs those time-worn tropes, sure: buzzsaw guitar, guttural vocals, bass flappier than a bat’s knacker-sack. Then, it’s a gleeful blend of Gorguts/Ulcerate disharmony and dashes of blackened arpeggios and post-punk rhythms. This is the most striking experimental death metal debut since Hath’s Of Rot And Ruin.
Parasit – En Falsk Utopi
Clinging to the Swedish d-beat blueprint established by bands like Anti Cimex and Mob 47 in the early ‘80s, Parasit’s fourth record goes toe-to-steel-capped-toe with stuff you know and love. Yeah, it’s a little less bluesy than Disfear and lacks the optimism you might glean from Wolfbrigade, but listen to those loosey-goosey leads. That Motörhead rumble. The toms. You wanted filth? Stick Parasit in you.
I, Of The Trees And Wind – Cry Of The Forest
Leaning into the atmospheric, folkier tendencies of a band like Summoning, roasting the synth on an open fire and dropping in some Dani Filth-worthy high screams, Cry Of The Forest is a wonderfully immersive debut. I, Of The Trees And Wind ditch Satan and embrace the wilderness, fusing chilly black metal, luscious keys and more stock birdsong noises than you can shake a scarecrow at.
Stahlijazhamur – Storming At Sunset
Released on New Year’s Eve 2021, Stahlijazhamur's third demo gallops through earwax like the most glorious medieval black metal, evoking the sub-genre’s reigning kings, Véhémence. However, Storming At Sunset seems to have been recorded in Henry VIII’s arsehole. Deliberately shite-sounding. Power through the dingleberries and stick around for the insane melodies.
Det Eviga Leendet – Reverence
‘Det Eviga Leendet’ is a mouthful, but it’s apt, given their wall-of-sound black metal battery recalls the equally tongue-twisty Gaerea. The Uppsala band’s second record is a sadistic seesaw of subtle atmospherics, taut tremolo and bestial black metal bellowed straight from the diaphragm. It’s brutal. Cold. Sometimes pretty. Much like its awe-inspiring artwork, or Nicolas Cage movies, Reverence gets better the more you study it.
Hermóðr – To The Nightside
If Burzum had bangers and wasn’t fronted by a convicted murderer, white supremacist and loser, it might sound something like Hermóðr. Clearly influenced by the aforementioned pioneer of second-wave black metal, Hermóðr’s one-man project has released eleven full-lengths since 2014. They’re consistently great, this latest effort pitting ambient dungeon synthery against paper-thin guitars, epic blackened soundscapes and gorgeous cleans vocalised by the suitably kvlt ‘Rosy’.
Blodskam – Ave Eva
Two brothers formed Blodskam in 1998. Then life got in the way. Their debut, Là-Bas, was finally released in 2019. Three years later, we’ve got Ave Eva. Conceptually rooted in a retelling of the Bible where Eve goes full scorched earth, Blodskam blast harder than Danny Devito in that meme. Dripping with melody and forever feral, their second record lurks somewhere between Sacramentum and Sworn-era Watain.
Gravkväde – Grav|Ände
There’s cold, then there’s Gravkväde. Like Mournful Congregation trapped in the research facility from The Thing, these happy-go-lucky lads aren’t looking for a TikTok hit. Their third album expands their sickly brand of blackened funeral doom, lumbering through ‘the concept of suffering through time and space’. Yeah, one of those. Pop an Ingmar Bergman film on, have a little cry and listen to Grav|Ände.
Röta – Nattsorg
Like most basement-dwelling black metal, Röta is a one-man project. Gustaf Karlsson’s the name, and blackgaze-by-way-of-melodeath’s the game. Karlsson’s time in straight-up ‘metal’ bands is evident, tearing out crisp leads and direct, sternum-straining screams. Nattsorg excels in its peaks, valleys and side-alleys, though. In particular, Fading Hope For The Coming Days, during which he punctuates glacial post-black metal with nigh-on grindcore snare blasts. Lovely stuff.
Maniak – Deathleicher
Maniak have reinvented no wheels. They’re just burning rubber, stuffing the passenger seat with first-wave black metal like Bathory and Venom – they do a mean live cover of the latter’s Witching Hour, too. These actual 16-year-olds stacked their Deathleicher demo with attitude, genuinely memorable riffs, gang vocals, and, in a gallant attempt to get cancelled before they can legally drink, stage names including ‘The Catfucker’.