The Heavy Metal World Tour is a companion piece to a weekly segment on The Metal Dad Radio Show. Each week we play a block of bands from a specific location from around the world, picked entirely at random. This week: Stockholm, Sweden
It would be one of the largest understatements ever put into writing to say that Sweden has been instrumental to the history of heavy metal music. The sheer number of bands this Scandinavian country has produced is mind-boggling. It would have been all too easy to simply choose three bands we had already played on the radio show – Amon Amarth, Candlemass, Entombed, General Surgery, Dark Funeral, etc., etc., etc. – when the childlike had of fate landed on Sweden’s capital. Instead we made formal an already unwritten rule we had been following (now dubbed the ‘Stockholm Rule’) that any bands chosen had to be ones never played on our show before.
When we started this exercise a few months back it was to not only turn listeners on to metal music from around the world, but new(ish) music as well. I decided to throw a curve ball here by choosing a band that had not only been around the block a few times, but one we probably should have played on the show a long time ago. Hexenhaus released their debut album, A Tribute To Inanity, in 1988, and would release two more albums in 1990 and 1991 respectively before morphing into the band Momento Mori. Guitarist, Mike Wead, had spent a cup of coffee with Candlemass (and has played guitar with King Diamond off and on since 1990) before forming Hexenhaus. One of the most underrated metal acts to emerge from Sweden’s thrash scene in the late 80s, Hexenhaus play the type of heavy, mid-tempo brand of thrash that many of their American counterparts were using to score major label deals. While the big money contract may not have come their way, Hexenhaus’ influence on both the Swedish scene and Europe at large was definitely palpable. While they reformed and announced in 2012 that they were entering the studio to record their long-awaited follow up to their 1997 comeback album, nothing has come to fruition as of yet (despite the sporadic Facebook posts since 2015 giving details about the new record and its imminent release). Here’s to hoping that record finally comes to fruition and the next chapter in this band’s interesting history can be written.
Stockholm’s Domkraft released their debut EP and full-length in fairly quick succession in 2015 and 2016 respectively. With that this band quickly established themselves as an absolute force to be reckoned with in doom circles. Their spacey, jammed-out version of doom metal mixes both the pummeling and the psychedelic into an often mesmerizing avalanche of heaviness. Their debut full-length, The End of Electricity, is as ritualistic as it is devastating, mixing elements of post-metal and psych rock into a cement mixer full of crushing doom. There is not a single track worth skipping on this record and fans of everything from Neurosis to Sleep and from Sea of Bones to Shroud Eater should be all over this record.
It’s been a pretty busy month for the man known as either Mortuus or Arioch, depending on which of his two bands you are referring to. June saw new releases from not only longtime black metal masters, Marduk, but his revived solo project, Funeral Mist. Hekatomb represents the first Funeral Mist album since 2009’s Maranatha, and only the second release since beginning his turn as the unholy voice of Marduk in 2004. The general rule of thumb when discussing a musician’s output is to try not to fall back too hard on comparing different projects. But when you release two albums worth of new material with two different bands in the same month all bets are off. While Marduk has made it their mission to shoot themselves out of a sonic canon and rip through everything in their path on virtually every release, Funeral Mist, and this album in particular rely more on certain levels of atmospherics and moments where the vocals are as much an instrument as anything else Mortuus/Arioch picks up. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have its fair share of blast beats galore as it goes for the jugular on pretty much every track, but you’ll find various interesting reprieves here that (until their most recent effort) might not have ever found their way onto a Marduk record. I’ve said before, and will say again that Mortuus/Arioch, is one of the best and most recognizable vocalists in black metal today, weaving blasphemous tales with a delivery that is more often than not otherworldly. This album certainly adds to his already rich black metal legacy and should be counted as one of the best one-man black metal releases in recent memory.