Comecon: A Retrospective An under-appreciated Swedish metal band gets some love.

comecon-logo

comecon

One of these guys is Rasmus Ekman, and one is Pelle Ström. One of them is the drum machine.

It’s not exactly the stuff of legends: a name derived from a Soviet-era economic pact, two musicians (Rasmus Ekman, Pelle Ström) who handle guitar, bass, a drum machine and other instruments across three full length albums with three different singers on each album. But that’s COMECON.

Most of us can name-check Swedish metal bands like Entombed, Unleashed, Dismember, Hypocrisy, At The Gates, Arch Enemy or Amon Amarth. Comecon isn’t a exactly as well known, having floated just beneath the surface of popularity during the early to mid-1990s. Even though they shared many of the same touchstones as better known bands (recording at Sunlight Studios, produced by Tomas Skogsberg, vocalists from Entombed, Pestilence/Asphyx, and Morgoth, and a certain familiar guitar tone) they were never quite on the same level. Death metal fans never got to see them play live; they were a studio band that didn’t tour. Continue reading

New Centinex available for preorder Fresh meat from a reliable Swedish institution

After nearly a decade on hiatus, Sweden’s CENTINEX rebounded with 2014’s more than solid comeback, Redeeming Filth. Two years later and their next full-length slab, Doomsday Rituals is scheduled for release in July 2016 on Agonia Records. It’s available for preorder with 3 promising tracks streaming on Bandcamp.

Centinex, "Doomsday Rituals"

60% of Entombed are back together! Reunited and it feels so uuuurrrrrrgh!!!

Decibel Magazine broke the news a couple weeks ago that the mighty ENTOMBED is back in action with 3 original members: Guitarists Alex Hellid & Ulf Cedarlund and drummer/writer/driving force/sometimes secret vocalist Nicke Andersson! Plans on the table at the moment are Close-Up Magazine’s Båten cruise in late October and a performance of Entombed’s 1991 classic Clandestine with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra on November 12. Continue reading

Thursday Three: Latter-Day Unleashed Sure we love the classics, but what have you done for me lately?

Unleashed has had a remarkable career. Exploding out of the gates with “Where No Life Dwells” (1991) (reviewed here and recently reissued on vinyl (again)) and “Shadows in the Deep” (1992), the Swedish killers settled into more sustainable mid-tempo groove for “Across the Open Sea” (1993), “Victory” (1995) and “Warrior” (1997). They took a bit of a break after “Warrior”, but came back in 2002 with the half fun, half dreadful “Hell’s Unleashed” which kicked off a string of releases that got better as they went: “Sworn Allegiance” (2004), “Midvinterblot” (2006) and “Hammer Battalion” (2008).

The next album — “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010) — switched things up a bit, taking on a slightly black metal feel which carried through on their next two albums, which includes “Odalheim” (2012) and “Dawn of the Nine” (2015).

Anyone familiar with those three albums can attest to the fact that Unleashed are far from done yet. If you’re not familiar, here’s some proof:

  1. “Master of the Ancient Art” from “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010)
  2. “Fimbulwinter” from “Odalheim” (2012)
  3. “Welcome Son of Thor” from “Dawn of the Nine” (2015)

Master Of The Ancient Art

Entombed, “Left Hand Path” (1989)

Entombed - Left Hand Path

Artwork by the mighty Dan Seagrave!

Nostalgia is a wet dog. I still love her, she’s my dog and all that, but she smells like the bottom of a zombie port-a-potty and insists on drying out by rolling on the couch of Corinthian leather. One of the cool things about listening to these old albums is getting that weird feeling that comes from taking a deep, long hit of pure nostalgia. Mmmm, so good! Yes, yes… remember? I was in college studying Medieval English Literature when Entombed’s debut came out! I was skinny! I wore glasses! Everyone else was listening to Jane’s Addiction!

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Unleashed “Where No Life Dwells” (1991)

1991; let the sink in for a moment. Fuck that was a long time ago. Like, pre-cell phone era, when people had “mobile phones” with batteries that could fry bacon or produce a cancerous brain tumor that whispered evil shit in the subconscious. It was so long ago, I was a wee grub of a collegiate human, feasting on the excrement of those higher up the academic food chain. The world was consumed with fear and fire as a war started in ancient Mesopotamia which is, beyond all logic and reason, still going on today. The bloated corpse of the Soviet Union continued to explode and spatter the region with a bunch of piss-ant countries. Everyone’s favorite cannibal Jeff Dahmer got caught with his dick in someone’s skull, “going postal” became a thing, people thought Pearl Jam was cool, and Starbucks opened in California. Lots of deliciously stupid shit happened that year!

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Desultory, “Counting to Infinity” (2010)

Desultory, "Counting Our Scars"

Desultory, “Counting Our Scars”

Given that virtually every metal band from the early ’90s whose members are yet living has decided to reunite, it’s no surprise that death metal cum rollers (but let’s not talk about that) Desultory have also thrown their hat into the ring. Their newest record bears the disconcertingly angsty title Counting Our Scars, but lays all fears of modernization to rest with a raw, popping snare, vintage vocals that fans of Tompa will adore, and a charmingly amateurish logo of old. And though the arrangements may be a bit more straightforward and the refrains a little snappier than in the old days, three out of the four original members ensure that the hooks are as tightly packed as ever. In short, this is what The Haunted ought to have sounded like, back when someone, anyone, still had faith in them. Headbangers unite.

But wait — isn’t Sickening Vaults about unearthing the cold corpses of old instead of pandering to the new? Yes. The reason Desultory’s new record earns any mention in these chambers is simple: their back catalogue, Into Eternity in particular. Long before the name was co-opted by a preening cabal of Canadians, Into Eternity called to mind ravenous, thrashing, Swedish death metal that presaged the above named and, most notably, death-thrash titans The Crown by several years. Indeed, listening to Desultory’s ‘Tears’, one could be forgiven for thinking it was from the Deathrace King sessions – a record that wouldn’t be released for almost 10 years more. And although Counting Our Scars has a distinctly Slaughter of the Soul vibe, it was Desultory playing tight thrashing death metal while At the Gates were still convulsing horrifically on The Red in the Sky is Ours Indeed, Desultory were always their own masters, sometimes even to their detriment, and their name must endure in its own right. This new record may not burnish their name any brighter than it already was, but at the least should shine a greater light upon their legacy.

Desultory