Angst Skvadron are, it’s fair to say, not your normal, run-of-the-mill act. Formed by T Nefas (formerly of Urgehal), this is a dark, hypnotic and often terrifying crawl through the deranged dreams of a terminal psychotic.
Things start out normally enough, to be sure, with grinding guitars and death metal vocals vying for attention, but then everything slips sideways with what sounds like the type of vocals employed during trips to alien planets in 70s Star trek episodes. Indeed, the title, ‘Valium Holocaust’ should have offered a clue to the dense sounds contained within, as the semi-industrial drums and vaguely atonal guitars do nicely replicate the feeling of being sunk in a drug-induced coma. This is going to be no easy listen… ‘Aerophobia’ builds on this interesting premise by proving to be a feral blast of metal complete with chugging guitars and a strangely a-tonal melody that works because it is so unconventional, before the whole thing slips into an ethereal melody that wouldn’t sound out of place in your local herbal remedy shop. Perplexing? Yes, it certainly is, but rewarding too and you can guarantee it sounds like nothing else that will land in your CD player this month. ‘Post traumatic stress syndrome’ takes the whole thing one step further by opening with a moody piano piece that is straight out of a horror movie before the guitars chime in and a distorted voice barks commands at unseen armies over the top. It is here that the Ulver comparisons make sense, not specifically in the nature of the music, but because Angst Skvadron are creating a soundtrack rather than an album, with each song adding its own element to the overall feel of the record. This is an album that is so much better when heard all together, where the bizarre sound effects, tempo changes and shifts in mood and colour really come into their own.
‘Dolcontine Blues’ is a short, odd piece which is part nursery rhyme, part sisters of Mercy and part Devar. It’s most unusual, and allows a short breather before the sci-fi metal of ‘Fucking Karma’ slams you back to reality, or at least some version of it. ‘The U.F.O is leaving’ is another short piece that showcases the talents of bassist T.B and then we’re into the slow dirge of ‘Rivotril Matja’ which is somewhere between doom and death metal. Of course having continuously shifted in style it doesn’t come as a complete surprise that ‘we miss them’ sounds a little like Pink Floyd, ‘The eyes among stars’ is the most brutal of all the tracks on the album and ‘Sweet poison’ is another lush soundscape to see the album out.
‘Sweet poison’ is an exhausting album, but in a good way. The band never let up their exploration of musical styles and genres and while, upon reading this back, the review may make the band seem disjointed I can assure you that the album never feels that way. The tracks work together, even though the mix is an unlikely one, and the invention and enthusiasm with which the band attack each song keeps the listener hooked to the very end. This is music as an art form, unapologetic if it strays into areas that listeners may not be comfortable with and brutal only when it adds depth and meaning to the song rather than for the sake of it. This is the perfect album to zone out to and is well recommended for those with a sense of adventure.