Holy shit! There’s a lot to talk about in metal today. Just to name a few, we have the stomping hardcore of Primal Rite, the reliably wormy Portal, and that Tribulation album that you’re either infatuated with or befuddled by. But let’s talk Sweden for a minute. More specifically, let’s talk Gothenburg. Type it into your web browser and you’ll get images of a picturesque city placed on the water and draped in snow. To quote In Bruges, “It’s like a fucking fairytale”. As of late, one of their more prominent musical exports has been twee and power pop leaning acts like The Sun Days and other very relatable and kind of adorable songsmiths. But before all of that, the city was a hotbed for something very different. And that was death metal.
Of course, death metal and twee sound like they come from two totally different musical universes. Anyone with any kind of passing familiarity with, ya know, music can spot the difference. But, Gothenburg death metal is a very different animal. Bands like At the Gates and Carcass are decidedly riff heavy and all kinds of brutal, but they also have an ear for songs as opposed to compositions. Throw on classics like Terminal Spirit Disease or Heartwork and you’ll find yourself just as invested in the melodies as your are in the instrumentation. That kind of interest in more conventional songwriting is something that still echoes through the city and especially in Agrimonia.
Agrimonia aren’t necessarily death metal. They’re much more in line with a blackened take on crust punk and d-beat. However, there’s still a deep connection to the work of Tompa Lindberg running throughout their discography and their new record, Awaken. Though, none of that should be a surprise considering that At the Gates’ bassist Martin Larsson moonlights with them. They also share guitarist Pontus Redig with fellow countrymen Martyrdöd. The members of Agrimonia have a whole lot of fingers in a whole lot pots, but Agrimonia never sound like anyone other than Agrimonia. On Awaken these tracks burst forth and twist into all kinds of directions ending in places far beyond where they started. Whether the riffs are gnarly like on “Foreshadowed” or soaring like on album closer “The Sparrow”, there’s no shortage of ideas and craft. Vocalist Christina stays atop the chaotic exploration with a commanding bark. It’s all very righteous. Give it a listen below.
Awaken is out now on Southern Lord.