Thrash ‘Til Death #27: Captor (Sweden) 1987-1995

THRASH ‘TIL DEATH is a 50 week long set of features exploring the legends who crossed over between thrash and death metal between 1983-1993. The focus is primarily on under-served, unknown, and exemplar bands/releases. The selection is comprehensive but the numbering is not indicative of any type of rank or value: The order of band appearance is arbitrarily chosen. E-mail me if you want to suggest any relevant bands!


Easily the most notable metal band out of the very secluded and small town of Katrineholm, Sweden the fellows up at bat this week began with what was essentially a Slayer cover band in 1985 that would become Captor in 1987 after a shake-up in the line-up. They were of a different generation of thrashers who’d fall into line with the more technical and demanding side of the sub-genre once they had arrived upon a stable line-up and felt comfortable writing original material. Each with similar thrash metal beginnings groups like Hexenhaus, Agretator, and hell even Meshuggah for that matter all arrived upon the very edge of two worlds within Swedish heavy music at the time as groove metal would soon propagate within Scandinavia in tandem with the powerful underground death metal scenes. Captor always appeared to view the world of heavy music with a global eye and a political mind and because of this their discography feels a bit like No Return‘s. What began as a pure thrash metal band became a death/thrash metal band and then a groove/death metal abnormality and well, I won’t cover the albums here but Captor did arguably become a nu metal band in the late 90’s. The portion of their career that I’ll cover here finds an ambitious modern thrash metal troupe hoping to land upon the death metal trend with some meaning before a divided line-up and changing tides within popular music would force a stylistic change. Hey! I’ve done my best to research as much as I can but please feel free to message me (grizzlybutts@hotmail.com) or leave a comment if I’ve left out anything vital or gotten something horribly wrong!


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Artist Captor
Title [Type/Year] Memento Mori [Demo/1991]
Rating [3.5/5.0] LISTEN on YouTube “Possessed”

Though both of the bands first two professional demos are available through intrepid use of search engines I’d suggest grabbing the 2CD Dark Symphonies reissue of ‘Lay It To Rest’ which includes both demos. In some cases the demo versions of certain tracks are the best versions and each demo is professional quality. With its intricacies it’d appear Captor were absolute perfectionists in coming up with their first demo, ‘Memento Mori’ which immediately smacks of late 80’s thrash metal influences as well as hints of the death/thrash metal of the time. They were always very clearly influenced by Bay Area thrash and Sepultura but this first release always reminded me a bit of Stone for whatever reason.


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Artist Captor
Title [Type/Year] Domination [Demo/1992]
Rating [4.0/5.0] LISTEN on YouTube

With their second demo tape, ‘Domination’, Captor shifted almost entirely towards death/thrash metal. In my opinion this is the finest recording from the band that feels grand, warm, and ruthless a la early 90’s Bolt Thrower and Mercyless without any of the brutality applied to the drumming. The result is perhaps Sweden’s best attempt at an ‘Arise’-esque sound at the time. The opening track “Traumatic Depressive Lunacy” just hits so hard and this version is a bit more ‘thrash’ and loose compared to the version that opens the bands debut full-length. In Daniel Ekeroth‘s ‘Swedish Death Metal’ he blames some of the drooping interest in this band’s original style upon their somewhat political lyrics but I’m more inclined to think their almost too pure thrash metal attitude and structures was more of a hindrance to a band so close to Stockholm.


 

Artist Captor
Title [Type/Year] Lay It To Rest [Full-length/1993]
Rating [4.0/5.0] LISTEN on YouTube

For most fans this first full-length is the best example of Captor’s work and the only piece to deliver upon the promise of their earlier material. I’d generally agree though it is absolutely clear they had been influenced by Godflesh and especially the first Fear Factory album at this point. The drumming is stuff and mid-paced, wah pedals are rampant, the whole thing appears to be leaning back on some amount of industrial and modern metal craftwork. Comparisons to Sepultura and ‘Mental Vortex’-era Coroner aren’t entirely founded in my opinion but folks cannot help but make them. The most apt comparisons should be with Cancer (U.K.) and Invocator‘s ‘Weave the Apocalypse’ as each band began to focus on modern groove metal influences that were more accessible than the death metal of the time, side-stepping the death ‘n roll trend which was frankly just about over before it began. The groove metal was already well on its way on this record but there is still enough of a half-thrashing Bolt Thrower-ish vibe to keep things interesting. For the puritanical death metal head I would probably guess the ‘Domination’ demo might be the more satisfying and succinct performance as it offers all of the main highlights of this full-length in a slight more fluid death metal style.


 

Artist Captor
Title [Type/Year] Refuse to Die [EP/1995]
Rating [2.0/5.0] LISTEN on YouTube!

By 1994 all three original members of the band had exited the line-up, as far as I can tell at least. Jacob Nordangård is most notably missed for his vocal style, songwriting, and bass performance and well… From this point on Captor was a simplistic and completely stereotypical groove metal band that’d slowly creep towards a nu metal style. To be fair Pantera had hit every part of the world hard and most thrash musicians found it more familiar and adaptable than death metal, it was crowd pleasing and very easy to play. ‘Refuse to Die’ is a clear response to a post ‘Far Beyond Driven’ world and if you weren’t around in the late 90’s to have seen those ideas exhausted, nobody every did it better than Pantera did, not even close. Bland and barely moshable groove riffs, angsty ‘fight me’ caveman lyrics, its all just completely embarrassing but I’ve certainly heard worse.

So, no really useful or profound takeaway here. Nothing is cherished or kept in the hearts of fans of the band beyond 1993, there are no shrines or bands doing cover songs. It wasn’t such an uncommon thing for a style-hopping band like this to amount to nothing when the tastes of their local scenes would change so constantly. To be fair, Captor more or less stuck with a heavier thrash sound (even when just straight up groove metal) but once the original members were gone the band would simply push towards commercial heavy metal style and achieve very little recognition despite releasing around three full-lengths after this point. You hadn’t heard of them, right? Nonetheless, the first three releases from the band do have much to offer as a curious extreme thrash metal side-note from the boonies between Örebro and Stockholm back in the early 90’s.


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