Skam
Sounds of Disease

Have you seen those “Gonna tell my kids this was…” memes? Here’s a pretty good one. Here’s another OK example. This one is just, well, perfect.

Anyway, if SOMEHOW I make it through this shit show and haven’t been rendered impotent by nuclear fallout or Lysol injection or whatever other goddamn plague is waiting on deck, one day I’m gonna hand my kids this album and say “this was America in 2020.”

Never mind that this is a Swedish export – this is the 2020 American experience. The band’s name? The album title? The track list? It all checks out. And that’s even before you hit play and get punched right in the mouth with a head-splitting sonic assault that’s the closest thing I’ve experienced to the sensory chaos of listening to Strapping Young Lad’s City or Anaal Nathrakh’s  Eschaton for the first time. After a brief, unsettling intro builds up the anxiety, “Have You Tried Not Thinking About It?” the band buries the pedal to the floor and blindsides you with a blasting, grinding wall of absolute aggression. Its like walking down a quiet suburban street and FUCKING BAM you’re slammed into oblivion by a turbocharged bulldozer driven by a meth’d-out lunatic. “When Liquid is the New Solid” continues the Grind-meets-Death-meets-Black-meets-Industrial slaughter – with a vocal attack very much reminiscent of Anaal Nathrakh’s David Hunt and his all-out screaming, snarling, shrieking attack. I’d love to give credit to the madman responsible for this disturbing but dynamic vocal performance, but the only information I can find says everything is done by one dude (at least I assume) known simply as “M.” So, uh, good job, M.

The high comes crashing down briefly but devastatingly on “Passenger of Decline.” A dissonant guitar intro leads into a slow, crushing track with strained vocals that feels like a heavy burden of grief and anxiety, before a manic burst of energy at the end sends things back into a frenzied, grinding state. Some subtle, but very clever piano accents help to further paint a picture of fraying sanity that permeates throughout the whole experience.

M further adds to the overall feeling of lunacy by never settling into any specific lane. “Shit out of Luck” hits with a more Death Metal-leaning rumble, while “Prison of Skin” slices with a Belphegor-ian Black Metal onslaught. Then, just as you’re getting acquainted with that particular mood sing, “A Stray in the Life” comes barreling in with a more upbeat offering of classically Swedish crust.

“Echoes and…” marks another freefall before the album’s final five-song psychotic break. “Sounds of Disease” hops back on the grind/crust wagon for another quick spin before diving off into a more bruising, Stockholm-y death groove that takes you through “Learning to Die.” The chaos keeps ramping up until final track “Sentencing,” What starts as an ethereal, almost serene track that hints at a final, gradual decent from madness, hits with one more final gasp of paranoid fury before abruptly cutting off into oblivion, ending the album as quickly and jarringly as it began.

“Sounds of a Disease” is an absolute bruiser – a sonic representation of mental and emotional crisis and instability. It’s a fitting and appropriate ode to a world that seems to be leading even the heartiest of us towards self-destruction and existential anguish. It’s chaotic, it’s emotional, and perhaps most disturbing, it feels completely relatable.

Now excuse me while I go back to looking at dumbass memes so I can stop thinking for a while.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
May 13th, 2020

Comments

  1. Commented by: AR

    This is KILLER. Your description is spot on, but I’m also hearing an almost industrial metal Nasum (kinda). Real, real good.


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