Particularly rainy days are often thought to symbolise the perfect backdrop for musing and reflection, as if the weather somehow allowed for such existential meditative moments, potentially pregnant with self-revelation, epiphanies and, of course, a melancholy sense of vacuity and helplessness, one that might threaten to devour our vulnerable resolve and lead us down the cruel path of shoegaze. Who knows how many of our comrades in hardcore punk were brutally taken away by shoegaze on rainy days, never to return, betraying the scene, their friends and their own promises of staying true to the roots... Perhaps straight-edge were visionaries after all? On such umbrella-loving days, I personally like to ponder over punk albums that deeply affected me in my teenage years and my early 20's, an intense time as much ruled by juvenile idealism and unlimited passion as it is by insecurity, narrow-mindedness and naiveness. Among the records I used to love unreservedly at the time, there are those that I no longer can seriously listen to - either because they are objectively not that good or because they are too anchored in a strictly defined era that is no longer to my liking (yes, I am looking at you neocrust) - and those that still have a similar effect although my context and experience have changed. It is a strange feeling, a sentiment that can as easily be applied to novels or movies and I think it operates on several levels.
First, when playing again and enjoying a record you used to adore, you also tend to appreciate and rely on the memories of adoration and enjoyment, without which you would not engage in the record in the same fashion, so that it is difficult to be objective (do you love the record or do you love the memory of love?). This nostalgic element can get entangled with the second level, that is based on your acquired, and always evolving, knowledge of the particular field and aesthetics adopted by the record. Your punk culture has vastly improved during the past twenty years (or, at least, it should have), not just in the quantity of bands you happen to be familiar with but also in terms of the creative processes inherent in hardcore punk music, in how trends and waves come and go, how intertextuality and referentiality work in punk, how the context define and illuminate the text, how the medium influences how we listen to and engage with punk music and what bands we chose to listen to and so on. With real knowledge of punk, some did argue, comes the end of the age of innocence and the metaphorical loss of paradise: the inimitable excitement that your excited and uneducated teenage self felt upon discovering on a very primal basis a solid punk record. It is an experience that one cannot replicate indefinitely as it can only last for a couple of years, as long as the magics still work, and d-beat (or whatever punk subgenres) still sounds fresh, new and personal. With the realization that most bands sound the same on purpose, the feeling of novelty, spontaneity and enthusiasm can wear down and an awareness of the aesthetics, context and creative processes at stake can cast a revived light on your subgenre punk record, one that is not incompatible with the primitive enjoyment of its crushing power, but rather, illuminates and completes it. That way I can still unashamedly listen to The Casualties' For the Punx and like it on a nostalgic teenage level and on a fancy pseudo-intellectual as well ("Did you catch the Skeptix reference on "Drunk on the streets"?"). It's a win-win.
All this to say that Krigshot's Örebro-Mangel massively kicked my arse when I first played the cd in 2003 and that it still does today, in so brutal a fashion in fact that it almost feels tricky to take a step back and look at this hardcore tornado with the materialist eye of reason. Like for my Prank Records order, I had picked some records from Sound Pollution because, judging from the website, the label had an international focus and it was well distributed, therefore, easy for a promising youth like meself to find. Also, the short descriptions accompanying the label's releases all sounded like honest promises of intense sessions of hardcore trash bollocking and I just felt I was ready for it. I mean, I had been to many grindcore gigs in Paris before and, although I mostly spent the gig getting pissed outside and chatting about Conflict, I still thought that I had what it took to genuinely enjoy a full album of Hellnation and I was wrong of course. I remember the description indicated that the Örebro-based Krigshot had members playing in grindcore bands but sounded like a more intense version of Mob 47, which I loved. Since I first heard them on the radio thanks to the great work of the show ça Rend Sourd (see the first part for that), I must confess that I had become a little bit obsessed with them and, although a mate of mine had burnt a cd full of random Mob 47 songs, I was frustratingly looking for anything from the band (I was eventually able to find some bootleg tapes, unaware that a full discography, Ultimate Attack, would be released the year after...) so, I thought, a band that sounded like Mob 47 was probably the best I could muster at that moment. Despite my conceited confidence, I was, clearly, unprepared for the awe that Krigshot induced in me. Örebro-Mangel fucking smokes.
If Avskum's In the Spirit of Mass Destruction was fairly reasonable and easy-listening for a käng work, one that, because of its rocking vibe and catchy vocals, could be enjoyed by moderate metalheads and even played successfully as background music at a punk party, Krigshot's Örebro-Mangel is a very different and much wilder animal although both albums have similar running times. Who said that scandicore was uniform? I remember having to sit down at the end of the first song "Örebro-mangel", an insanely fast and pummeling hardcore trash number of 44 seconds, a little shocked at the level of intensity and not quite sure whether it was a brilliant idea or a terrible mess. I must say I have never played Krigshot that often compared to Skitsystem or Warcollapse for instance because Krigshot's music usually sounded like it was just too much. Too fast, too loud, too intense and after 10 minutes, a little dizzying, not unlike being smacked in the face again and again and wondering why you still enjoyed it. This style of fast and direct Swedish hardcore is often called mangel by the temple guards of punk and Stuart Schrader - formerly behind Game of the Arseholes - defined the mangel subgenre as a cross between the speed of U$ hardcore and the Discharge aggression, the substantive itself coming from the Swedish language for washing clothes with a laundry roller and the noise it makes. Mangel usually works best on the Ep format for the obvious reason that eight minutes of that relentless a bollocking is more than enough and that, as the latest scientific studies have shown, a normal human being can only take so much radically overblown Mob 47 worship in a day before fainting from exhaustion (the studies also showed that longtime Swedish hardcore fans have developed an additional membrane in the ears so as to be able to withstand without limitation of time, yet another convincing example of the theory of evolution). As a result a full album of 24 songs of uncompromisingly fast and orthodox mangel hardcore can be seen as a tricky endeavour. Indeed, to keep a punk listener engaged for 28 minutes with a Swedish hardcore record made up of one minute long songs is a challenge in itself as you have to keep the intensity level high and the songwriting sufficiently catchy.
To be fair, Krigshot do have a couple of slightly longer and slower numbers on Örebro-Mangel to allow the listener - not to mention the album itself - to catch its breath. A wise and welcome choice. But otherwise, be prepared for an all-out hardcore attack with a very aggressive and loud guitar sound and vocals sounding meaner and throatier than on their previous 1999 Lp, Maktmissbrukare. This aforementioned album used the same songwriting template of mid-80's Stockholm hardcore but had a rawer sound and more distinctly 80's-styled vocals, so that it resembled a 90's tribute to Mob 47 and Crudity whereas Örebro-Mangel sounds more like a more modern extreme take on the genre thanks to its production. As you probably know, Krigshot - originally the name of a Mob 47 song - was a side project of Mieszko and Anders from Nasum, on vocals and drums respectively, while Jallo (from No Security, Totalitär or Meanwhile among many others) was in charge of the Åke-styled riffing and the bass on this recording. If Mob 47 were undoubtedly an influence on the 90's Swedish d-wave, there were not many bands who openly aimed at sounding "just like" them and Krigshot can be relevantly said to be to Mob 47 what Meanwhile were to Discharge. Know what I mean?
Of course, it was recorded by Mieszko at Soundlab Studios, a man who certainly contributed to make Swedish hardcore heavier than ever through his production works with bands like Skitsystem, Acursed, Avskum or Wolfpack and who tragically died in the 2004 tsunami. Örebro-Mangel is an intense, pounding, really fast and brutal hardcore work that is not for the faint-hearted and one that casual hardcore amateurs won't probably play every mornings. However once it kicks in, it sounds like an unstoppable beast going straight for the throat and it is basically impossible not to enjoy those fast, dynamic riffs and the really fucking fast energetic drumming that make you feel like a teenager again. Did I mention the album ends with a Riistetyt cover? Just icing on the mangel cake. As for the lyrics, they are all short, sharp and angry protest songs in Swedish with short explanations in English. One of them, about the song "Denna jävla teknik", rings a nostalgic bell "The song is about the new technique and it's consequences where the punks have 50gb of mp3's in their computer, but not a single classic 7'' in their possession". "The punks" no longer even bother having mp3's, they just stream. So 2001.
*about the title of the series "Wesh to Sweden": "wesh" is a slang word commonly used in France by the urban youth. It is derived from the Arabic language and can mean a variety of things like "hello", "what's up", "how are you?", "what!", "fuck" and the list goes on and on. Sorry if the meaning gets a bit lost in translation.