Friday, April 24, 2015

Metal Metal Land: Keepin' It Old-School: Scandinavian Traditional and Glam Metal

It's no secret that Scandinavia is the most metal region in the world. Come on, this is the home of the vikings! Metal is in their goddamn blood!

Denmark's King Diamond smashed the world with Mercyful Fate back in the Eighties with his devilish shrieks and Hank Sherman and Michael Denner's sick riffs. Things got even darker with the rise of the black metal scene in Norway. Soul-crushing guitar and piercing screams froze the hearts of everyone that listened to them. Bands like Mayhem, Immortal, Gorgoroth, and Emperor were notorious for their fearsome stage presences; things got even crazier when churches started exploding and people started getting stabbed in the face. Finland's well known for folk metal, spawning amazing bands who sing of myth and fantasy in their native language. Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, and Amorphis have gained worldwide popularity. Sweden has by far been the treasure trove of the bunch. It may be renowned for melodeath and power metal like At the Gates and Hammerfall, but it's had a bit of everything. Neo-classical metal (Yngwie Malmsteen), thrash (Cranium), prog metal (Meshuggah), doom (Candlemass), and soooooo much more!

Surprisingly, Scandinavia has another scene that gets overlooked. I mentioned a couple months ago that glam metal has seen a bit of a comeback in the last ten years. That's right, it's happening in the land where Odin and Thor reign supreme. This struck me as odd when I first started prodding around. I literally couldn't think of any band with that sound except for Hanoi Rocks, and they're most famous for Vince Neill killing their drummer (accidentally; this ain't some Varg shit).

 It seems like their influence was greater than most people give them credit for, as a slew of glam metal bands have popped up across the cold white north in the last fifteen years. Groups like CrashDiet, Santa Cruz, Reckless Love, Hardcore Superstar, and Crazy Lixx have gained a lot of popularity of late. They may have the looks down, but it's their musicianship that's getting them noticed. It's not just the old style of the Sunset Strip that's getting a makeover either. A ton of bands are cranking out classic rock and metal style in a way that's familiar yet fresh. Sweden's Crucified Barbara and Sister Sin are probably the queens and kings of this scene, with other bands like Pretty Maids, Freak Kitchen, and HEAT hot on their heels.

Going old school might be a good move for a lot of these bands to make since it sure as hell is a lot easier to get into commercially than extreme metal, but a lot of these bands do their best to add grit to it in hopes of spilling over into that territory. Some of these bands have such a traditional sound that a couple of them could be mistaken for demos from the NWoBHM era. Click the links on each band name and give these people a listen and see what you think.

Warning: may include incredibly cheesy nostalgia-triggering music videos.

Slagelse, Denmark

Helsinki, Finland

Stockholm, Sweden

Bergen, Norway

Helsinki, Finland

Mariehamn, Finland

Steel Inferno
Copenhagen, Denmark

Stockholm, Sweden

Växjö, Sweden

Sarpsborg, Norway

Chrome Division
Oslo, Norway

Air Raid
Gothenburg, Sweden

Lappeenranta, Finland

Gemini Five
Stockholm, Sweden

Lucid Dreams
Oslo, Norway

Angel Sword
Helsinki, Finland

Copenhagen, Denmark

Oslo, Norway

Nyköping, Sweden

So what do you all think? Like these bands? Hate them? Think glam should be dead and buried or are you having flashbacks to your glory days? Those of you living in Scandinavia, are there any bands I'm missing that you recommend other folks and I look into?

"Metal Metal Land" is a piece I try to do at least once every month. It involves me stalking the internet for bands and listening to a few songs to material. I have no idea what my next locale will be. If you live in a place with a great music scene that you think needs some more coverage, shoot me a message and tell me about it! I'd love to give it a look.

Stay heavy, my friends.

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