A band continuing to forge an intimidating legacy in 2018 was the Oslo/Stockholm powerhouse, Shipwrecked. In June, the band released We Are the Sword; an unrivaled monster dragging listeners through seven blistering songs on one 12” EP. In July, the band hit US Shores to represent at This Is Hardcore on the Friday night with Shark Attack, Rotting Out, World Demise, Incendiary, Ten Yard Fight, Regulate, Raw Brigade, etc.). This is impressive for a band with scant records; Arctic Nights 7” on 2005; The Last Pagans LP in 2012. This past Fall, Klas, vocalist, who also, in 2018, celebrated kicking off his podcast, The Stockbury Dark (supernatural storytelling w/ Peter Morcey of 100 Demons, Forced Reality, Brass City Boss Sounds, TNT Fest, etc), answered questions as Shipwrecked continue to schedule feral onslaughts to convert more followers into the horde.
April 2017 seems to have ignited this current wick. Shipwrecked played an insane two-day event in Boston (Saturday with The Templars, Battle Ruins, Fit for Abuse, Boston Strangler; Friday eve was Foreseen, Peacebreakers, Legion 76, Hammer and the Nails, Burden). That is also when Shipwrecked released the 3-track stellar s/t 7”. Other shows that year saw Shipwrecked play with The Franks in Oslo (9/2017), The Full House Records 20th Anniversary (12/2017) and culminating at the mighty PSK Fest on April 6 + 7, 2018 in Berlin; showcasing Hammer and The Nails (Boston), Urban Savage (Sweden), The Detained (Berlin); Battle Ruins (Boston), Fuerza Bruta (Chicago), Complete Loss (Germany).
Shipwrecked scorched further lands this year after This Is Hardcore with a record release show on the 27th of October in Stockholm. Klas rioled with excitement. “(Broder Tuck is a) Small, small venue. So it is going to be great. Two local bands, alongside with our friends from Spain. More than half of the tickets went in 24 hours; so, it shall be a time to remember.” The lineup was DTS, Screw & LA Oposicion (Valencia, Spain). Then, The Sound of Revolution Fest (Holland) saw the rabid fans rage as Shipwrecked played this past November with The Templars, Shark Attack, Underdog, Agnostic Front, Life of Agony and Dag Nasty.
February 2019 sees the band crashing Barcelona, Spain for a gig with Slapshot (Boston), La Oposicion, Orreaga 778 (Basque Country, Spain), Reconquesta (Catalonia, Spain) and more.
We Are the Sword has continued echoing destruction and focused formidability since its release. Its bold blend of killer hardcore is coarse and fierce; channeling old Boston like SSD and DYS and new stuff like Boston Strangler, Blazing Eye, No Tolerance. It was immediately absorbed by fans who needed an insane rager soaked in opaque shrouds. Klas cannot dispute the stark tone radiating from each side of this record. “Man, it is by far my darkest work to date. (It) has that isolation feeling of the Scandinavian Winter. We also went for a Norwegian black metal studio on purpose. The studio, focuses on black metal and rock 'n' roll but the actual studio is very '70s; the equipment, etc.”
The equipment — or the cavernous Hellmouth where the equipment was stored — surely promised a dark tone. Listeners must deduce these vicious tracks reflect a more pessimistic world view. Or at least a more confrontational one. Klas reflects, “I actually feel the new record is very similar to the first seven inch, Arctic Nights; both topic wise and for the atmosphere. Every recording we ever did took place during the colder months (of) fall/winter. The seasons have always had an overall impact on us. We might me pessimistic in some aspects but very optimistic in others [laughs].”
The sound is raw, brutal. Words that get dropped frequently when describing this type of hardcore. But here, the words are the perfect fit. Feelings and aural impressions of calloused black metal and grindcore and early hardcore (USA, Swedish, Japanese, D-beat, etc) coalesce into a punishing collection. Guitar tones of Boston bands like Negative FX, SSD, DYS is mixed with Negative Approach’s vocals and lack of concern for your judgment. 6 songs appear after a 4 minute intro; totaling 10 minutes of hurried spite.
We Are the Sword was done as Shipwrecked’s prior records. “No producer, just us and a sound engineer.” This simple and direct approach to recording illuminates the intent of a band who knows themselves well after all these years. “(It) was recorded over a weekend, Friday included. It is what we prefer. Too much time in a studio makes any recording feel less urgent in my humble opinion. It is supposed to be a feeling of ‘here and now’. The first or second take is always the best. Once you go beyond that, from experience — at least in my experience — something gets lost. Like standing face to face with a person and telling him or her that you love them for the first time. In life, there is usually just one take in whatever we do and say that really matters. We try to bring that with us.” That urgency is palpable in each song.
The band's synergy is also extremely noticeable. These last few years of increased shows in front of large crowds must have honed the horns of battle. The record sounds live. “Good thinking. Yes, we record almost everything live. I prefer that too. And it links in to the previous answer. I take the urgent atmosphere it creates over every note, tone or kick being computer precise and clean. We are not a clean band. Recording in a studio that works mainly with ‘70s rock and old metal totally helped us along the way too. Persian carpets and dim lights. We got to feel like our favorite bands doing their first recordings in the early ‘80s.”
The sweat poured reflects the crimson lyrics charging through the speakers. Huddled in with frantic riffs and respites of heavy, pulsating contemplation, words leave Almen’s mouth with fervor and fury. The band's culture and imagery delve into Scandanavian history which conjure the violence and wrath of that history and position it against a current backdrop. Klas explains. “Everything I ever wrote has had historical context to it. Or let me paraphrase that. All lyrics have always dealt with experiences, events or movements that happened over a longer period of time. Whenever it was personal or on a bigger scale. I don’t even know if that is a good thing, but it’s how I am wired. Growing up, I believe a lot of the bands that I connected with kind of did the same thing. Even the Bad Brains to a degree. I don’t really know if there is such a thing as applying old ways to current problems. Time is so unique and always was for the people living in it. But, we, as humans, have also kind of falsely come to believe that there is nothing to learn from the past because we are so special.
'We are not cut out of time — it’s the same hatred and conflicts, same hate that divides'
“That has become a problem, at least in the western world,” continues Almen. “Extreme individuality has pushed us away from context and reasoning. One could blame social media and the internet and cosmetics over depth; but it was the same thing in the '80s long before the world wide web. My dad was a part of a local history group where we lived. He found rune writings and a place of sacrifice that had remained unseen for probably a thousand years. The University closest to us took great interest in it and so did some local history buffs. But the majority of the community showed zero interest. This was a unique and unheard echo from events that had taken place thousands of years ago; landing basically at the doorsteps of people living nearby but they were not interested.
“There is proof of this kind of lack of interest throughout history. Reason why so many old castle ruins look torn with walls that are far lower than their original height is that stones were taken and used to mark out and separate farm lands and cattle ownership over a series of decades, maybe even centuries. I believe we could learn more from good women and men that are no longer here in a physical form.”
With historical impulses explored, the remnants of the lyrics hold political resonance also. Klas uses his intelligence and experiences to feel as overwhelmed as most of do. The chaos and rhetorical banter bandies across airwaves and web pages eluding any true resolution or compromise. “There are too many people looking for simple answers to situations that are very complex. Not even those that are yelling and pointing fingers the most realize what kind of powers are set in motion. People should be very careful of what they wish for. Ignorance will only breed more ignorance.
The Templars stated it perfectly:
"Simple reasons to pacify simple minds. In life, easy answers are often hard to find. Some things defy logic no matter what you say. Real life's not black and white but many shades of grey."
We Are the Sword saw Shipwrecked add a player to the tight knit band who has remained. Klas lists off his brothers in arms; “Me, Joar, Jon, Thor and Hans. We were proud to bring in Hans; our old friend and brother on 2nd guitar. Hans played in TurnXCold and Common Cause. He has also been there since the early demo days; old østlandet edgeman. He and I were roommates under horrible circumstances too, many moons ago. Getting him aboard has been nothing but great fun. Getting to that wall of sound and power like SSD. Thunder and lightning hardcore. Other than that this is the same line-up as in 2004/2005; when we got busy and right before Thor joined the army.”
Shipwrecked’s schedule is contingent on the boys getting together; as they reside in Oslo and Stockholm. But the incendiary motivation of the last two years have seen the band tour harder and release two great records. Things seem to be gathering momentum. Almen replies, “I don’t know if we are busier, but I feel that we have found a pace that works well for all of us as of right now. Aside from me living a year and a half in Norway, Shipwrecked was always based in both Stockholm and Oslo. It has never really effected the song writing, because it is the only thing we know. Believe it or not, we were actually pretty inactive when I lived there too. If anything, it makes us fuck around less and be more effective and practical. We make the most of it when we hang but the trip is not too bad. Couple of hours by car.”
Shipwrecked has gathered friends around the globe, as the members have been living in the hardcore scene for decades. They have families and jobs which demand attention. But as Klas said, that makes them focus when together. The continued push inside, the manic motivation, helps Shipwrecked leave an impressive imprint into the hardcore annals. The urgency referenced earlier is not to ride some nostalgia trip. Contribute currently is an ethos. They love to see the bands around them flourish and conquer as much as they want to keep increasing their input.
Klas notes, “I think about this off and on. Musically, at least from personal tastes and liking; maybe this thing of ours is better off than ever. Take for instance the last Boston Strangler LP (Fire, 2014). This is a brave statement but I shall stand by it. Had that record come out in 1984, it would have been on everyone’s ‘Top 10 Records of All Time' list. It is a phenomenal record. I could say the same thing about UK’s Arms Race, Violent Reaction, and The Flex. The record I have been spinning the most lately is the Burden 7” (2018 on NxA/Under Watchful Eyes) — Time Tryeth Truth. I love that band and I love those people. We talked about lyrics before. There is a lot of historical topics here, too. You dig where you stand but from a bigger historical perspective. Burden deserves all recognition possible. Another band I totally love is our brother Mike’s band out of Philly, Please Die ! Great people but also phenomenal song writing. Primitive, brutal and also very intelligent. I would love to get Burden and Please Die ! over to Europe. Anyone reading this, check out the new Please Die ! record and catch them if you can.
“The Battle Ruins new LP (Glorious Dead, 2018) is already a modern classic; first Highlander move battle scene mixed with Rose Tattoo. Urban Savage from Skåne are still around even if they’re not super active. I love and respect those guys. I feel like there are new bands popping up all the time. I like the fact that there seems to be new fire in Youngblood Records. I might be a little out of the loop; but I have listented to Line of Sight and I believe they are great. Wish they would have played TIHC too. Raw Brigade (Colombia) were great live and the single is great. Aggression Pact from (Massachusetts) is a great band. We love Hammer and The Nails (Boston). Bunch of great bands in Germany now, too. The last record from For Pete's Sake is a heavy banger. We miss Peter and his last recording with FPS was emotional and intense. The record released earlier this year is so powerful and strong. It is called North Atlantic and I urge everyone and anyone to check it out.
“(DF) Justin’s Innumerable Forms are fantastic. The Punishment in Flesh (2018) record is insane.” Klas elaborates with nostalgia, “(it) reminds me of going to House of Kicks in the Old City in Stockholm in the early ‘90s and hearing Entombed and Dismember for the first time. [Laughs] It reminds me of buying metal magazines as a little kid and out of 100 pages, like 2 would be dedicated to the dark sides of metal."
Lastly, Klas has been busy as heck recruiting amazing hardcore people on his podcast The Stockbury Dark to discuss ghosts, hauntings, and other supernatural occurrences. Widely respected and followed, the podcast boasts hardcore dudes so into this other subject. The supernatural/occult must linger in those New England and Scandavian forests. The podcast elicits great stories while providing chilling atmospheres.
“Thank you for the kind words. Yes the reaction has been crazy. People love it. It has been a learning curve; since neither Pete nor me knew anything about the format, but shared a great interest in these topics. The Stockbury Dark is our chance to gather new stories and experiences from people that we like, trust and respect. These topics, if you will, have followed us forever. Every new episode and every new guest is a fantastic opportunity to just sit back and listen. That in itself is also something that people have noticed. It is not about listening to ourselves talk, but full focus on our guest and his or hers tale. I don’t get much out of people shooting the shit for an hour and it is not what we are about.” Guests have included Dwid of Integrity, Jesse Standhard, Rich Thurston, Max M Morton, Mike Flynn, Ian Wise, Colin Young, Rob Lind, and more.
Klas closes, “Saying that I have had a long interest in the supernatural/occult isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is much wider than that. It is very connected to my interest in history and folklore and just peoples stories, man. True wealth for me is the amount of great stories that we collect throughout life, not financial status. I remember my grandfather telling me about strange experiences that happened when he worked in the forest in the ‘30s and ‘40s. I mean, they enriched me. (All I) wish (is that) Pete and I can do something similar for others.
And classic Klas, brings it right back to hardcore, “This music, our scene; since day one it has dealt with these topics, kind of. Just look at the first wave of records that came out — Pushead's art, the first NA record, Void, DYS, The Damned and the list goes on. Horror movies, history, local lore, grit, and just strange and sometimes scary topics has always followed us – at least during my whole involvement in this thing, and the same thing goes for most of my friends. The Stockbury Dark is us celebrating these stories, old and new — for us.”