Those Crusty Swedes
Reading through any extreme music magazine, you're bound to run across at least one mention of Swedish crust or Swedish D-beat, usually accompanied by mentions of the Dis- bands who were the giants of the field. I personally have never looked into the style before. But with Southern Lord's increased focus on the most metal parts of punk music, this is a perfect time to explore.
To that end, I've given many a spin of two new Swedish crust/D-beat records, Wolfbrigade's Damned and Martyrdöd's Paranoia. In short, they're both FMA-approved.
The two are so similar that they could pass for two albums from the same band. Swedish crust, apparently, sounds a hell of a lot like Swedish death metal. Or at least these guys do. They both have more than a little buzzsaw in the guitars, and they use the hoarse growls of Swedish death, which always sounded more hardcore than metal in the first place. They differ from Swe-death in a few ways, of course. The riffs aren't quite as heavy (more thrash-like than death). The pace is fast but steady throughout both records, with only a few brief slow-downs on the Martyrdöd end. And the drumming is pretty much the same beat for the duration of both of them as well.
Those latter two factors could just about drive a person insane if they listened to it for too long. Those, coupled with the extremely blunt approach favored by Wolfbrigade, make Damned a little bit trying toward the end. At 36 minutes, the one dimension of their music is stretched just a little further than it should have been. It doesn't help that the record was produced a tad too loud, either, which can also be fatiguing. Still, the good stuff here is really good, it's just that some of it becomes a blur 3/4 of the way through.
Though Paranoia is slightly longer at 42 minutes, it doesn't seem longer. Martyrdöd employ a good deal more melodicism, setting the songs apart and making them much more memorable, without making them wimpy. The production is at a much better volume level, and their lyrics are Swedish, both factors strongly in their favor.
Damned: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Paranoia: 4 out of 5 stars
I find in favor of Paranoia. The songwriting and production are simply better. But Damned is a good listen too, and would be recommended especially to thrash fans who want to branch out.