After Äntra in 2013 and Svedjeland in 2018, Swedish black metallers Svederna are back with their third full length record titled Härd (Swedish for “hearth”). Svederna are now a four piece band, having recently added S. Frödeberg Karlin on bass (and guitar) to previously existing instrumentalists A. Thunarf (drums, guitar, bass guitar) and E. Weinestedt (guitar, bass guitar). The vocal duties fall to J. Holmberg.
Not having been familiar with the band before picking up Härd, I was quite surprised at the vocal style of J. Holmberg, who pumps out a nice mixture of dry barking, snarling and shouting, the latter of which evokes the image of him standing amidst a mountaintop in my mind, shouting his despair into the storm. There is lots of distress, desperation and anger in his voice, which suits the lyrical content quite well. The fact that the vocals are in Swedish lead to a check of Google Translate for me to uncover specifics, but to sum it up: we are fucked, and Svederna beckon humanity for a return to nature. The raw emotions in the delivery of the vocals are very effective, and my utter lack of any part of that language whatsoever did nothing to lessen my enjoyment of the record.
The fact that both Frödeberg and Thunarf are credited with guitar next to their main instrument parts on the record really shows – this band likes to focus on riffs, and they do it well. The songs are littered with a nice variety of tremolo picked black metal parts, rocking grooves and thrash metal riffs. And they are used in the context of really good songwriting, well balanced with slower, more dynamic parts. The second half of Tempelhärd comes to mind, when during a melancholic open chords part, the bass suddenly takes the lead and breaks out into a beautiful melody. During all this, while the sound and songwriting are decidedly aggressive, a melancholic overtone always lingers, supported by folk metal influences and melodies that perfectly fit to the musical theme.
The sound mixing is simple, straightforward and beautiful. There are no fancy postprocessing tricks or distracting effects at play, the record sounds very raw, direct and honest. It never sounds muddled or low-fi though; at all times, the smooth bass can be clearly heard underneath the guitars, and the drumming is bright and clear. During all this, Holmberg’s vocals are right in your face.
Due to the fact that I do not understand a single word of Swedish, this is not one of those records where I have a certain chorus stuck in my head. But the feelings that were transported stuck with me. Svederna have delivered a great black metal record with Härd, one that I will definitely come back to. Hard recommendation.