Endless Bleak Cold/Punic Wars [demo]

Sønderfall - Endless Bleak Cold/Punic Wars ©2001 - Self-Released
1. No Humans
2. De Som - Interlude
3. De Som
4. Protectors Of The Flame
5. Greeters Of Dusk
6. Endless

It may be siginificant that Sønderfall is Swedish. Was it not, after all, a bunch of excited Swedes who, in the late 80s, hatched the inspired idea of furnishing traditional death metal - in a creative crisis, as it always seems to be - with a massive dose of romanticism and, more relevantly to this review, melody?

Sønderfall, an independent Stockholm-based duo, are of course not a melodic death metal band. Both of their demos (compiled on the one CD) lean heavily towards the sort of immutable, caustic stomp that marks the Broadrick school of industrial rage; it might be said, actually, that Sønderfall fill Head of David's empty spaces with brisk, ploughing guitar riffs. Here, I would posit, is a useful point of departure. The leading track, "Protectors of the Flame", fades into a mid-paced wall of sound that is braced with a lead guitar-riff, bringing to mind the stomping militaristic tendencies of Laibach, but yet is dynamic and subtlely melodic enough to be on a Dark Tranquillity album. "No Humans" incorporates a lonely triangle-like melody, lowered slightly in the mix, wending its way through the fury. Likewise "De Som" is split by a cool Thousand Lakes-era Amorphisesque keyboard interlude. Lest we get carried away, this not a lullaby: there seems to be a pre-occupation with pure noise (especially on "Endless"), and said melodic elements are still couched within harsh pounding and the firmly esoteric, including odd phase-shifted vocals, that swirl in and out of the mix, which I might hear again if I start losing my mind.

But it is the economic application of melody that is a theme here. A brief history of the variations on industrial music would take us into the pop quarter (Stabbing Westward, Rammstein), the avant-garde quarter (Painkiller, Skinny Puppy), the metal quarter (Meathook Seed, Fear Factory), and the commerical/crap quarter (Bush, Tea Party, Marilyn Mason). But few have taken the spirit of Godflesh - that is to say, the cold steel no-frills frame of industrial angst - and added a melodic sheen, without morphing it beyond recognition. Sønderfall, in mining the roots of the industrial sound and innovating it with a simple sense of melody, may be be haunting an hitherto unmentioned quarter of the industrial complex.

Given the song titles and the overall apocalyptic tone (including some abrupt endings) this stuff, I bet - like a lot of industrial music - lends itself to visuals, and would work with well a mercilessly bleak looking album cover like Godflesh's Streetcleaner or Techno Animals's The Brotherhood of the Bomb. There is, at any rate, interesting stuff going on here, and Sønderfall have plenty of tools at their disposal with which to build their enterprise.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 12/2001

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Sønderfall - Ödeläggelse ©2003 Bleak Cold Productions
1. Över Allt
2. Under Spannet Av Svarta Svarta Vingar
3. Tvingad
4. Blekt Och Blodlöst
5. Djävulen
6. Ni
7. I Den Svarta Sorgens Famn
8. Rov
9. Sønderfall
10. Lukten Av Hennes Blod
11. Böj Er
12. Född Under 666

Awhile back, I heard the first Sønderfall demos, kindly provided by Steffe, and thought they were a mildy interesting take on industrial tinged metal. Somewhere along the way, demons caught hold of Sønderfall and the band has rediscovered itself as a blisteringly raw black metal band. More importantly, Sønderfall has become rather impressive in this new foray.

With the appropriate production qualties, Ödeläggelse is quite true to black metal form. The guitars are naturally set in the trebly areas, the drumming is loose and speedy (somewhat like early Burzum) and the vocals sound as though they're being lacerated by shards of glass that some mean bartender snuck into their vodka cranberry drinks. More impressively, this album positively kicks down the doors. Raw black metal is a hard thing to master as the field is limited from the outset. However, Sønderfall provides more than a few great riffs that have their basis in older thrash and provide enough energy to invigorate listeners. Best of all, Sønderfall doesn't ape their influences to the point of blind hero worship, so the listener won't spend their time thinking, "Golly, you know, I think Darkthrone has already been here."

Sønderfall has definitely taken a very interesting step in their development. It's more than obvious raw black metal suits the duo and they have a better handle on it than many of their contemporaries. This is one of the rare black metal albums that I have found myself pulling off the shelf over and over to play in the car. Whether you're a tr00 kvlt black metal fan who sweats out demon juice or an enthused fan like myself, Sønderfall has plenty to offer on Ödeläggelse.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2004

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