Within all the darkness and seriousness that clouds my periphery on a constant basis, there is, on occasion, a need for a glimmer of light. To fill that void this particular week, I happened across the latest release from Skraeckoedlan. The second full-length from the Swedes, titled Sagor, offers a wide range of psychedelic rock and metal influences, creating an enjoyably blissful listening environment. And with a band name that translates closely to ‘dinosaur’, you know you’re bound to be entertained.
Skraeckoedlan’s discography is rather minimal; they’ve only done one other full-length in their six years of existence. But don’t let that fool you: right from the upbeat stoner-sludge quality of the introductory “Prolog,” you can tell they know how to deliver their brand of metal with exceptional quality. But before really digging into their unique sound, I’d like to take a quick step back…
As we all know, before you ever press play on an album, the first impression comes from the artwork. I don’t normally bring up the visual aspect of an album, but in this situation it’s necessary. The soft colors and tones of an unfamiliar mountain landscape located somewhere cosmically distant — clearly evidenced by the impressive planets hovering nearby — set the tone for an abstract journey through time and space. Musically, Sagor inspires as much blissful adventure as those same pastel colors found in the landscape we are first introduced to. Visually, it’s the perfect portrayal of the music within.
The album itself is fantastic journey through faraway landscapes, but one taken with curious ignorance due to its lighthearted feel. It’s an adventure — a simple, whimsical adventure, with maybe a touch of attitude and determination. The sound is fairly recognizable, with the riffs and percussion finding an interesting spot somewhere between Baroness and more recent Mastodon work, only more progressive. The style is consistent throughout — percussion-infused riffs come in waves, generating a punchier quality to the leads and overall sound — but each track still formulates its own personality. Every song meanders its way around a slightly different take on this musical structure. From the more aggressive “Epos” and “Odjuret,” to the melodic climbs found in “El Monstro,” there’s constant deviation in pace and weight. It does more than enough to keep Sagor interesting.
But we need to spend a bit more time on the more curious aspects of the album. For one, tracks like “Gigantos” and the aforementioned “El Monstro” feel like they’re recycling the same riff. They start low in pace and tone, and quickly work their way up higher and faster — uplifting stuff. But the change-ups thrown in with the vocal styles (aggressive to melodic) and guitar solos help differentiate between the tracks, which is a bit unexpected to say the least. And I’d be lying if I said that riff didn’t make the album more cohesive overall. But then comes a track like “Squidman” — a mostly-instrumental tune that features only spoken lyrics — that’s even further out there conceptually. The music is so experimental in the later stages that its eight minutes just fly by. Needless to say, despite some repetition from track to track, Sagor‘s definitely not lacking for creativity.
When all was said and done, I found myself interestingly addicted to Sagor. Skraeckoedlan have created an other-worldly environment and politely invited us to join them in absolutely blissful exploration. In both familiarity and uniqueness, their sound is brilliantly communicated and will inevitably leave a lasting impression on anyone that takes the time to study it. And quite frankly, Skraeckoedlan inspires a journey that is very much worth taking.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”