If you have been reading this blog long enough, you’ll have noted a recurring theme in a number of my reviews regarding prejudices and reserving judgment. My rampant liberalism aside, this can be attributed to the fact that my opinions are most often proven spectacularly wrong.
Case in point: my treatment of Swedish grindcore and powerviolence. Despite a general affinity for Sweden itself, I find that too often the grindcore it exports seems to share an overly-manicured, safe quality with its famous death metal. Acts like Rotten Sound, Splitter, Sayyadina, even Nasum sound too polished, too over-engineered to me, lacking the violence and urgency that makes this style so vital. For this reason, I generally write off most Swedish extreme music as embracing this pitfall. And most of the time, I’m right.
In this case, however, it was quite a pleasant surprise to be proven wrong by the dirty, blastbeaten Swedish fastcore of Femtekolonnare and their newest tape, the seven-track Välkommen till Växjö.
Led off by a vocal sample that ends in a “One, two, one-two-three-four” count off, A-side opener “Och bilen går bra” smashes open into a high-pitched grind that gradually commingles with punk riffage until finally blinking out of existence to usher in the next track. The EP’s exact middle, the awesomely titled “Spela Snabbare” (“Play faster”) finds the band indulging its most punk rock tendencies, riding a simple (but gut-level satisfying) chord progression through a series of changes, including a shout/scream call-and-response between vocalists Fritjof and Jonas. Speed-freaked closer “Ett jävla daltande” ends the tape on a frantic note, though the band still leaves room for two second-long drum breaks that offer another example of the vital stylistic diversity that distinguishes this band from its peers.
Lyrically, the band favors a humorous, often satirical anti-establishment style, evidenced by titles that Google Translate tells me mean things like “Everyone Laughs at the Cops” and “Öjaby - Växjö's Asshole.” That humor is a crucial ingredient to what would otherwise be a collection of finger-pointing sociopolitical punk songs, not exactly uncommon to this style of music.
Välkommen till Växjö’s packaging is minimally but tastefully designed, all blacks, white and greys, as befits a DIY hardcore tape of its ilk. Drummer Carl’s choice of typography and abstracted, militant images recalls the old school in a modern way that comes off as referencing rather than aping it.
This release, neither the band’s most aggressive nor its most crust-leaning, offers an effective entry point to the rest of their catalog for that very reason. It’s this balance of styles that makes Femtekolonnare so noteworthy, blistering energy and light-hearted, moshing punk trading off in such equal measure that they serve as a suitable soundtrack to both riotous anger and righteous air-drumming.
Välkommen till Växjö is available through Ingen Våg.
In Vino Veritas (2010)- 16-track cd-r and the band’s longest release to date. Notable track(s): “Hippiesvin”, “Fred, kärlek och jävla dumheter”
Med segerrika vapen (2010)- 4-track tape that includes one of my favorites from the band, “Tafatta snutkukar.” Notable track(s): “Tafattasnutkukar”