Fem – Swedish for 5, is the Malmo quintet’s 5th album. High fives all round!
These chaps mix dreamy shoegaze atmospheres with uplifting doom and tortured sludge vocals. So far up my alley I need a proctologist to extract it!
First up I have to say Ronnie Kallback’s throat rupturing vocals are a filthy moss covered topping on the delights beneath. Each vowel and consonant spewed forth is done so with so much pain, angst and passion that I feel every damn word despite not understanding a word of Swedish. The vocal production is raw as well giving each track a DIY edge despite the warm, hugging feel of the music beneath. This is an album of juxtaposition.
“Fodd Till Att Springa“ is melancholy metal with hints of early Anathema and My Dying Bride which then breaks into huge drums and a post hardcore heartbreak that fans of Aaron Turner’s various works will embrace with fervour. Emotion is something that rarely gets talked about when discussing metal – brutality, power, intricacy and blast seem to take precedent. Fem pour emotion into every track and the flavour floods out like a neurotic teabag.
“Levande Doda” sees Dan Hedlund and Henrik Wendel’s guitars duel with Kallback’s voice over a deliciously drawn out melody before Viktor Forss brings his drum crashing in to obliterate the beauty with Dan Wilding backing him up on bass. This is the sound of a heartbroken walk through a wood near a lake on a dreary Sunday. There is no numbness here. This is pain that reminds you that you are alive.
“Utvagen” is just as emotive but with a rumbling bass that gives a post punk feel a la Publicist UK whilst the guitars ooze post hardcore from every pore. Big pounding riffs to throw big shapes to. If the other tracks were dreamy this one is the stark reality. Gaps and breakdowns are used as punctuation for this epic track.
“Fanrick Kallbacks” that follows can only be an ode to family members of the vocalist I guess. It centres around a great college rock riff giving the track a delightful odour of Kim Deal for Mr Kallback to desecrate with his wonderfully crushing voice.
“Insikten” is a beefy, riff led, hulk of a tune held together by an almost bagpipe like lilting guitar line that makes it sound like the band are either on the edge of a cliff or at the edge of a nervous breakdown but still retaining an eerie grin.
The title track draws the album to a close. Of course it is 5 mins long. Opening with big jangling chords and the sound of wind and rain this is the big closer. Once the feedback ushers in the guitars it is time to collapse into the voluptuous dreamscape created by Pyramido . Repeated refrains, key changes and delightful harmonies abound. Light and dark, harsh and soft this is the way to lose oneself.
Fem is a dreamy sludgy tour de force.
(8.5/10 Matt Mason)