originally written by Chris McDonald
Like grindcore? In particular, like Nasum? Then Afgrund’s debut album should be right up your alley. Svarta Dagar is a tight, cacophonous grind record that takes a great many cues from the aforementioned grind legends, perhaps too many. I know grind is a genre that places ass-kicking over originality, but I have to say that virtually every track on here had me thinking about a similar moment heard on Human 2.0. But does this lack of originality make this a bad record? Not at all. In fact, it’s a damn enjoyable one.
I’ve always liked grind bands that aren’t afraid to be melodic, and Afgrund immediately struck a chord with me in this regard, supplementing their vicious barrage of blasting crust riffs with catchy, melodic hooks that add an unexpected depth to the record. Sure, these melodic segments are very reminiscent of the way Nasum would offset the all-out grind tracks with more drawn out, melodic pieces on their classic albums; regardless, this aspect of the band’s sound is executed with conviction and skill. Vocals, the usual mix of manic screams with in-your-face growls, also sound a great deal like you-know-who, but don’t quite match the rhythmic mastery and infectious intensity displayed by the late great Mieszko Talarczyk. Not especially memorable (though there are moments), but definitely solid.
The professionalism and skill shown in musicianship and song craft is damn impressive though. All fifteen tracks are strong and offer the listener all the razor sharp riffs, blasting drums, and over the top speed they could ask for. “Enkelriktat krig” and “Ångesten är total” begin the album in total blazing fury, while the spastic riffing and chugging breakdown found in “Tårar hjälper föga” sound almost math core-influenced. The trio of “Katarsis,” “Roulettehjärta,” and “Raderad” are deeper, more melodic cuts that show that the band is not afraid to add their own touch to the normally narrow grind formula; these three tracks make up probably the strongest section of the disc. “Terrorbalansen” features some devastating riff patterns and one hell of an infectious vocal exchange, and the “epic” “Käpprätt åt Helvete” ends the album in a suitably excellent fashion.
Overall, Svarta Dagar is an incredibly intense and surprisingly varied grind record, and maintains a high level of quality throughout its duration. However, the lack of originality is a still a hard pill to swallow for me personally. I’ve been a huge Nasum fan for many years, and it’s difficult to really summon as much excitement for a band that imitates a trademark sound so closely. Then again, some would say that the sound Nasum coined has become the trademark sound of Swedish grind, and bands like young acts like Afgrund are simply paying homage to a great band that influenced them. Regardless, I have no hesitation in giving a hearty recommendation for Svarta Dagar. Its tight, catchy, and aggressive as hell, and it’s not like you’re going to care about originality when you’re blowing out your eardrums to songs like “Maktens Murar Rasar.” Definitely pick this up if you’re into grind.