Five piece Swedish ex-members of collective Besvärjelsen conjure ever-expanding and earthy attitude as they grift away from stoner metallic space-rocked bounce of their 2015 debut ‘Villfarelser’ and wrestle up a more relaxed opium den as their platform. Vocalist Lea Amling Alazam seems to have gained a more notably confident presence on ‘Vallmo’ while some of the exciting synth work on ‘Villfarelser’ is reduced. I like the shift towards Alazam’s vocals being the driving voice of ‘Vallmo’ and the additional layers of ‘stoned and somber’ make for a distinctly Swedish stoner metal journey. In aiming for a new sound and greater variety Besvärjelsen have found a warmer and slightly less naive hour of dream-like stoner metal with just enough Scandinavian mystique to leave me curious as to what they’ll do next.
With ties to Dozer, Greenleaf and a member of sludge band Oak it’d be hard to get a clear reference from any of those bands for the approach on ‘Vallmo’. I’d say if you’re familiar with Dozer you could maybe draw a hairy line between this and ‘In the Tail of a Comet’ but that’d suggest a bit too much blues and not enough Acid King or Ruby the Hatchet. The punch of stoner metal a la earlier Greenleaf (self-titled maybe) rings through and the grooves of this record are felt throughout, but I found it a bit sleepy compared to their earlier work EPs. While I am generally impressed with ‘Vallmo’ the performances don’t entirely deliver upon it’s ambition. By spreading the stylistic focus of the record they’ve diluted some of it’s dynamic, bouncy mood with a common thread of gloomy melody. It is a sincere and professional stoner metal/rock album with a lot of great ideas all the same.
Though it might help to learn a bit more Swedish to understand what is going on behind the pretty noise of ‘Vallmo’ and it’s ode to the poppy, the journey is a long and detailed trip that ends with the epic post-rock kissed 10+ minute “Alone”. I’m not sure that Besvärjelsen would have benefited from a shorter, simpler or ‘poppier’ approach on their debut full-length as I’ve found even the most dreary, dreamy, flopping moments are endearing enough. The only track I tended to skip after the second listen was “Under En Svart Himmel” as it makes less of a statement as the surrounding tracks and drags the second half a bit. That said there are plenty of stunning tracks on ‘Vallmo’ and my favorites were “Return to No Return” and it’s doom riffing, the restless stoner rock of “Öken”, the epic closer “Alone” and probably got the most play out of “Mara” with it’s funky guitar tone that sets off the doom-like rock that introduces the first half of the record. An ambitious and very worthy debut from this fresh stoner metal group that certainly deserves to be heard outside of Sweden.
|Released||March 27, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Suicide Records’ Bandcamp!||Follow Besvarjelsen on Facebook|
Cathedral dust and thistle crowns. 3.5/5.0
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