I stumbled on this band a while back while scouring Amazon for the classic Entombed record Left Hand Path. It seemed interesting enough to warrant checking out, and I ordered their 1996 release Fevered. I was certainly not disappointed. But first something about the band.
The name is what struck me first. The obvious, Church of Satan – Anton LaVey, reference aside the name seems more befitting to some post-modernistic industrial outfit rather than a metal band. But a metal band it is. If I had to classify it, it would go under the Gothic Metal genre. The music is very slow and brooding and the whole atmosphere is downright gloomy and dark. It is not dark in the evil black metal sense, rather it is filled with sorrow and despair. The music alternates between heavy riffing and melodious chords. The absolute highlight of the record was the singing! All of the vocals are performed by one Mariana Holmberg, she sings in a clear, soft and very low key kind of style. Her performance is such that it totally overwhelms the underlying music and it is then that you realize that the riffs and chords are there only to provide a skeleton for her performance. The music is relatively simple, but very well arranged and performed. Very deep and heavy, yet slow and very captivating.
It is rarely that I am really touched by a record or that it conjures up enough of an atmosphere to be able to visualize the music. This feat has up till now only been achieved by a small number of really outstanding records. While Holmberg is no Maria Callas and their texts are not quite Shakespeare, the delivery is so earnest and heartfelt that it just cannot go unnoticed. The title track ‘Fevered’ has the following chorus:
The world is sick
And life is the disease
Feverish we breed
The rhythm, tempo and Holmberg’s voice delivery make these three, otherwise quite banal, lines really hit you and you can’t but help feeling her bereavement. The same can be said about the concluding lines:
The loneliness feeds my resentment
I remain dead
She releases these lines in a sort of primal scream or wail without actually screaming. I know this sounds really odd but she sounds just as tortured here as the Mayhem vocalist Dead did on their classic original recording of Freezing Moon. The difference being here that he DID actually scream. My favourite track on the record must be The Wounds Of Bitterness. One of the verses goes:
Released once again
The anxiety subjected
By a devotion - Dead I am rejected
What I have kept in my Heart so frail and cold
Vanishes into this
Nothingness that now unfolds
She delivers this with a very low and bombastic kind of voice in contrast to the rest of the record where her singing is somewhat higher. This for some reason has evoked images of Queen Boadicea or some other Nordic (yes I know Boadicea was actually Celtic) warrior queen. It just sounded very majestic. The general sad and oppressive atmosphere of the record is one that I haven’t experienced since Turn Loose The Swans by My Dying Bride or possibly Serenades by Anathema. The honesty projected through this record means that the vocals and supporting music both reinforce each other. This is a typical case of ‘the whole is more than the sum of the parts’.
Left Hand Solution was formed in 1991 by Jocke Mårdstam
(guitar), Jörgen Fahlberg
(vocals, bass) and Liljan Liljekvist
(drums). In the following year they released their first demo entitled ‘Dwell
’. The early incarnation of the band had another female vocalist, Kicki Höijertz
on board. With her they recorded their first full-length record on the Swedish label Massproduktion in 1994. The record entitled ‘Shadowdance
’ was preceded by another demo called ‘Falling
’. The record received widespread acclaim in both the regular printed as well as underground press. In 1995 the singer was replaced by Mariana Holmberg
The second full-length album was recorded in late 1996 and titled ‘Fevered’. It was licensed to Nuclear Blast and released world wide. The current lineup started to record "Light Shines Black" in December 1998. The record was not released until 2001. Recently the band has released a remastered edition of ‘Shadowdance’. According to their website they have done some quite extensive touring including a number of gigs in the United States last year.
I myself am looking forward to hearing more of their music. Should any of you give them a chance I would be most interested to hear what you have to say.