Vid Helvetets Grindar
posted on 6/2009 By:
Afgrund’s debut Svarta Dagar was a ripping piece of textbook Scandinavian grindcore, and despite its obvious influence from more established bands, was one of the most promising releases of 2007 for me. I remember thinking back then that adding more of their own stylistic touch to their excellent existing sound could really elevate the band’s status in their genre, and two years later Afgrund have proved my prediction correct with Vid Helvetets Grindar.
Aside from writing some of their lyrics in English this time around, the band’s methods are largely similar to their debut; super-tight bursts of punkish grind with a modern touch. The most important difference here is that Afgrund has made a tangible effort to craft a more distinctive sound this time around, taking their formidable but formulaic pure-grind framework and seamlessly integrating sludgy slowdowns (“The Empire”), doomy interludes (“The Great Cover-up Apocalypse”), and crust-influenced call-and-response choruses (“Kuken Som Vapen”). The increased punk and thrash influence adds another crucial dimension to what is often a one-dimensional style of metal, and it turns what would normally be a single rush of indistinct speed into fifteen well-developed compositions that continue to be catchy and intense long after most similar albums would have lost their luster.
In addition to the excellent songwriting, the instrumentation maintains the high level set by fellow Scandinavian grind acts such as Gadget and Rotten Sound, with perfectly timed blasts and buzz saw guitars supporting maniacal screams and yells that sound even more frenzied and raw than they did on the debut (in fact, the increased personality in the vocals is one of this album’s strengths). Paul Pani’s drumming in particular stands out as more technically engaging than before due to the creative bass drum and cymbal touches used in the slower and mid-paced segments (such as the crushing breakdown in “Inevitable Environmental Collapse”) as well as the greater variety of different blastbeats employed. All in all, the strides forward in songwriting and musicianship not only make Vid Helvetets Grindar more intense and enjoyable to listen to, but much more noteworthy in today’s crowded field of narrow-minded grindcore bands.
By sharpening the punk influence and diversifying their riffing attack, Afgrund have added a healthy dose of depth and style to a sound that was already a force to be reckoned with. Vid Helvetets Grindar is exactly the kind of follow-up record I was hoping to hear from this band following Svarta Dagar, and is easily one of the year’s best grind releases in addition to being a breakthrough effort for this young Swedish outfit. If you missed out on these guys a couple of years ago, you owe it to yourself not to make that mistake again.
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