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Victims and Skitsystem…

Posted on Wednesday, May 10th, 2006 @ 12:10pm » permalink

Victims - Divide and ConquerHot damn, I've said it before, but there's just something about Victims that I love, and they've really become one of my favorite Swedish hardcore bands of the present. Having heard most of the band's output, they really started to win me over last year with "…In Blood", and that trend continues with their third full-length (again released by the mighty Havoc label), "Divide and Conquer". In some ways I'm not entirely sure what it is about Victims' work that nails it for me, because in all honesty, as much as I dig these various brands of hardcore/punk, I'm easily bored, so there are loads and loads of bands of this general nature that I enjoy, but simply don't listen to all that often. I don't know, they basically take that fast early-80's kind of hardcore and hype it up with that harsher and more pissed Scandinavian edge, while tossing in minor dashes of Motörhead-esque rock that make the majority of the songs catchy as fuck – which certainly helps when you're blazing through 15 tracks in just under 22 minutes! Also worth mentioning, especially for those who prefer their hardcore a bit "purer" of heart, is that there's no metal here. While the band does possess that certain level of aggression associated with a number of other contemporary Swedish acts, their sound strays away from any metallic crunch, and in fact I'd tag this album as being a slight bit rawer than "…In Blood" was (I can't say that I prefer that particular angle, but it's not a negative trait at all, this shit still totally smokes).

Victims "Your Division"
Victims "Captured"

Havoc's prices are great, so this one's just $9 all over the place. Pick it up if you're into it, and if you had never heard Victims before I highly recommend grabbing "…In Blood" as well:

@ Havoc
@ Relapse Records
@ RevHQ

Skitsystem - StigmataAlso from Havoc is "Stigmata", the third full-length from Skitsystem (also from Sweden, of course). This is the band's critical debut sans Tomas "Tompa" Lindberg, with guitarist Fredrik Wallenberg and bassist Alexander Höglind now handling all of the vocal duties (they've also added a new second guitarist in Mikael Kjellman from Martyrdöd). It's tricky, because I am a Tomas Lindberg fan, but I have to admit that I do often find his presence to be somewhat overrated. However, with so many bands having followed Skitsystem's lead (i.e. they all sound quite similar), his vocals did help the band retain their forefront identity, so thankfully, now that they don't have that to rely on anymore, the songwriting has become more dynamic this time around. There's still plenty of the moderately fast and pounding chord progressions and powerful dissonance for which the band is known, but there are more tempo changes, as well as a smidge more metal – somewhat akin to Bolt Thrower covering classic Swedish death metal or something (just keep in mind that all of this is blanketed by a hardcore framework, this is not a metal record at all).

While "Grå Värld/Svarta Tankar" remains my favorite of Skitsystem's output, "Stigmata" is a far stronger album than "Enkel Resa Till Rännstenen" was. First off, they recorded at Studio Fredman this time around and the sound is excellent: Not what I would consider to be "polished" (though by crust punk standards I suppose it is), just very crisp, utilizing a balanced mix and punishing tones without lacking texture or going over the top. And beyond that the songwriting is just more interesting and memorable (all of the lyrics are in Swedish, but English song explanations are provided and these cats definitely still mean business), so it's been growing on me with time and definitely comes in a close second to their debut. And in fact, given a longer period of reflection, "Stigmata" might even stand right alongside "Grå Värld/Svarta Tankar" without fail.

Skitsystem "Apokalypsens Svarta Änglar"
Skitsystem "Det Samvetslösa Hatets Plågor"

Same deal. It's cheap, so buy it if you like it:

@ Havoc
@ Relapse Records
@ RevHQ

11 Comments...

  1. Johnny says:

    Damnit you beat me on this by like two days! Good reviews though and that Victims cover art is badass.

  2. pa.chris says:

    The Victims stuff really catches my ear but I think the mix is just plain awful. I would love to hear this stuff cleaned-up and layered well. SS just doesn't do it for me but isn't bad overall.

  3. Carlzilla says:

    I wasn't a fan of Stigmata…I guess I kinda like the less dynamic more straight forward stuff from their older albums.

    I'm also not the biggest Victims fan…aside from their split with Accursed I just haven't been able to get into them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Bring back TOMAS!!!

    -carlos

    http://www.myspace.com/hopecollapse

  5. pa.chris says:

    Hey Andrew,

    Any chance you are going to give us a review and a song or two from the Icepick album? I am very interested but cannot seem to bring myself to spend the $11 bucks until I hear from someone, anyone what kind of disc it is…

  6. Johnny says:

    I finally got it this week and it's OK, nothing to loose your mind over. It's basically like a Hatebreed album, except that Ezec is singing some of the songs. His stuff is good, but maybe not as creative as some of the other bands he's done. My main disappointment is that you can hardly tell 3 Gun is in the band. Usually I can hear his work from a mile away but this time, like I said before, it just kind of sounds like Hatebreed.

  7. pa.chris says:

    Thanks Johnny, sounds like it is something I can just pick up anytime and don't need to rush to listen to then as I was also looking forward to 3 Gun's contribution…

  8. AVERSIONLINE says:

    Frank didn't play on the record. I think Zeuss did all the guitars on the record. Yeah, it basically sounds like Hatebreed with Ezec doing 40% of the vocals. It's good, though.

  9. Johnny says:

    Yeah I didn't mean to imply it wasn't good, because it is. It's sorta like a pre-major label version of Hatebreed, which let's face it, we all loved. I just think it was so long in coming out and maybe a tad over-hyped, it's got a lot to live up to. It'll be interesting to see if they end up doing anything else with Frank actually playing or if Hatebreed ends up sounding any different now that he's in there.

  10. Gabriel says:

    I wouldn't count on it regarding the upcoming Hatebreed album. As far as I've understood, most of the material was written before 3-Gun jumped onboard. So basically, I think it's going to be very Sean Martin, but with things you couldn't do with a single guitar.

  11. Johnny says:

    Yeah, I mean plus that Hatebreed formula is so written in stone, I can't see anybody moving them very far away from it.

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