How do you write a comprehensive review of a weekend filled with bands blasting skull-crushing hardcore, rooms filled to the gills with thrashing punx, and of course asshole cops who put their boot on the throat of revelers just to ruin our fun? I guess we should start with the city—Stockholm, Sweden. A glorious jewel of socialist living, easy to get around and expensive, and filled with all the hardcore records you could ever want.
I made the decision to go to Dead Rhythm on a whim—I saw the lineup, checked on flights and bought a ticket before even telling my partner I was thinking of going. Infest? Death Side? Citizens Arrest? Wolfbrigrade? Career Suicide? Doom? I mean without even knowing the names of any of the other bands, how could I go wrong? Travel, accommodations and entry tickets were obtained the week the initial lineup dropped, and then I had months to prepare and dream about a trip that was certain to blow my head off. I imagined such a weekend of brutality as had not occurred in Sweden’s capital since Kristian Tyrann slaughtered 100 Swedish nobles in the infamous Stockholms Blodbad (but you know, with less blood) and fundamentally, that is what I got.
The festival was spread out over three days in two separate venues—the first two nights in Kraken and the last night at Slaktkyrkan. A lot has been said about the issues around bands not playing because flights were not purchased by the promoter, bands canceling for family issues, as well as horrifying incidents of state violence between punx and Swedish security services. I don’t feel much more ink needs to be spilled on those topics—basically, mistakes were made and cops are assholes. I won’t make excuses for either, mostly because my therapist says I should focus on the positives of life, but also thirty plus years of punk rock has shown me that such things are unfortunately par for the course.
There is a reason that bands like bands like Doom, Infest, Death Side, etc. are legends—going into the gig you know they are going to level the place. What’s more amazing about this particular fest is there were no shit bands—like, some are better than others but from the minute it kicked off until Death Side ripped through their eponymous song it was nonstop go-go-go! Just a sea of ragers--thrashing, banging, stage-diving and high-fiving.
So yeah of of course Wolfbrigade was a skull-crushing steamroller of stadium crust power, and certainly Career Suicide just leveled the room in a manner that I can only dream that Jerry’s Kids once did, and yeah the whole world caved in on itself when Death Side played ‘Life is a Chain of Games,’ and of course Infest was like a jackhammer to the brain that kept going LETS FUCKING GO because, you know, “They push me! They test me! They bring out the best in me!”
But really the biggest joy of gatherings of the tribes like this is seeing/hearing/learning about new bands, so let’s talk about my top five from the weekend:
Foreseen—hailing from Helsinki, Foreseen are literally everything I wanted crossover era '80s insert-random-punk-band (don’t beat me up Agnostic Front) to sound like. I mean really, imagine if you will, when all your 80s heroes tried make the leap to the metal world that instead of slowing down and trying to play at a skill level that was well beyond them, they instead stepped on the gas pedal and knew how to play their instruments. That’s what you get with Foreseen.
Look, I hate metal. I think of it as masturbatory, self-indulgent drivel. I mean 9 times out 10, I’d rather see a band that can barely play their instruments than see some metal band noodle their way through some song about Satan or witches, but even I couldn’t deny just how just overwhelming, intense, and crushing Foreseen were. And here’s the thing—they have multiple records out and you people are wasting your time on mediocre jams when you could be eating the manna of thrash.
Katastrof/Dissekerad—this is cheating. Two bands, same singer (who used to front a little band called Totalitär, who if you don’t know them then by all means, go study up and come back) but also featuring members of fabled Swedish bands Avskum, Krigshot, Herätys and more spread between them.
I mean there is so much talent and power encapsulated here that they obviously needed to split into two bands. Both are similar in their take on the pulverizing Swedish hardcore sound that takes the Discharge formula and turns it up to eleven. Both are worth your time.
Fredag Den 13:e—you know the Göteborg sound? No, no, not the '70s punk band that dropped the collectable single Rik Man, Fattig Man but more like the melodic yet heavy yet metallic yet energy-soaked sound of say At the Gates (if you can imagine them as a hardcore band) or maybe a smidge of the intense, hammer-to-face Skellefteå hardcore sound of Totalt Jävla Mörker.
Watching Fredag Den 13:e, my jaw just hit the floor and left me wondering a). why haven’t I heard of this band before and b). how this has band existed for 10 years without being more hyped up stateside?! and lastly c) HOW DO THEY HAVE THREE LPs OUT?! Anyway, don’t be a clueless old man like me, just get on the party train.
Planet Y—in some ways this København band stood out like sore thumb, but sometimes you need that. Playing melodic yet driving punk, akin to the Dangerhouse catalog run through a Scandinavian filter (think Sods, think Ebba Grön, think Gorilla Angreb, yes that is me making a lazy comparison), they provided a nice change of pace to a weekend of ripping thrash and d-beat.
Kohti Tuhoa—I should have known this band. I mean, I’m a dude, I have a beard, I’m in my mid 40s and they have a LP on Southern Lord. On paper, I am that label’s target demographic. Then again, the majority of their catalog is the opposite of this band. As a fan of furious hardcore, this is not the sort of band I imagine Southern Lord releasing—Uniform Choice discography and Brotherhood pedigree aside.
For the familiar, this is the natural progression of Finnish hardcore (Terveet Kadet, Kaaos, etc.) for the modern era. For the unfamiliar, think relentless stop and start, face melting hardcore punk played at a nearly uncontrolled velocity that would never be the soundtrack for a Volkswagen commercial. Something like that, but better.
I could keep going, sure, but that would take up hours of your time. I mean you know Doom flattened the room, and still have negative feelings towards Peaceville as well as cops. And yeah, Barcelona was the epitome of nihilistic noise chaos and destruction, Citizens Arrest kicked out the jams like the successor to the NYHC crown they should have been, and Kovaa Rosvaa just shredded through their set like the Finnish speed metal looking rippers they are.
And of course, I could talk about seeing Infest, Citizens Arrest, Career Suicide, and Foreseen play a surprise record store show, but that would be bragging and that would be rude. Anyway, hardcore rules. Don’t sell out. Stay Punk. Stay Freak.
Tagged: dead rhythm