Album Review: Grift — “Budet”

It kinda feels like winter is never going to end here in the Midwest.  The skies are still cold and grey and the snow is still coming down, which would make my work commute a real pain if I wasn’t told to work from home for the next three weeks.  I’m a pretty big fan of the snow and the cold, and even though I know it’s not supposed to be here, I’m trying to look on the upside of things.  There’s a beauty in the melancholy, and nobody shows that better than Sweden’s Grift on their new release Budet.

Grift’s mastermind, poet/artist/musician/photographer Erik Gärdefors, had a lot on his mind while making Budet, the project’s third full length release.  Gärdefors describes this as “an album that is more about the future than my previous albums; about things around us that undoubtedly will happen sooner than later.”  That sounds a little ominous, and maybe there’s a good reason to be trepidatious about the future, but there’s an equal amount of optimism and hope to be found in the six folk-tinged metal tracks that comprise Budet.  In fairness, they come off more as metal-tinged folk tracks than the other way around, with less emphasis on heavily distorted guitars and pounding drums and more focus on gentle acoustics, mournful chord organs and melodic violin lines, courtesy of ColdWorld’s Georg Börner, who guests on the tracks “Ödets bortbytingar” and “Vita arkiv.”  Couple that with some “introspective and thoughtful” lyrics (which are all in Swedish, so I will have to take Grift’s word at this) and layer it over deep pastoral atmosphere, and you have what seems like a perfect soundtrack for a walk through the chilly gray countryside.  There’s an awful lot of mood in these songs, and sometimes I feel like it might almost be too melancholic for me, but that could just be my current state.  It all depends on how willing you are to get some deep feelings brewing, but I would advise you to give it a chance to blossom.

That’s not to say that Budet doesn’t go off when it needs to.  “Ödets bortbytingar” opens with a cacophony of blast beats and a more classically black metal guitar line reminiscent of Wynterfylleth, and opener “Barn av ingenmansland” moves off of aggressive double-bass drumming and a repeated electric guitar motif.  The beauty of Budet lies in when Gärdefors decides to turn it off.  Budet is full of beautiful melodies and Gärdefors is a master of letting them speak for themselves and making sure they don’t get lost in everything that’s going on within the track.  “Vita arkiv” is a perfect example of this.  Despite the rise and fall in intensity of the drums and rhythm guitars, the lead melody is front and center and carrying the emotion of the piece alongside Gärdefors’ wailing vocals.  Not everyone is going to be a fan of his delivery and how abrasive it is, but I think it works in the overall context of the songs.  They’re raw pieces, full of emotion and honesty, and even if you can’t understand the lyrics you get the sense that this is a person who is speaking from the heart, with all the worry, frustration, hope and passion contained within.

Erik Gärdefors (photo credit: Nathalie Ericson)

There’s not a whole lot that we can do with all the weirdness going on but stay safe, hold on to what’s important to us and try to look on the bright side of things.  We can’t help feeling gloomy sometimes, but there’s more to trying to make it in the world than fighting back against the bad.  There’s a lot to look forward to as well, even if it’s hard to see sometimes.  Hopefully Budet can help sell you on that, or at least give you some moody, melancholic music to get all pensive and introspective with.  It’s definitely an album that deserves a lot of care and thought.

– Ian

Budet is available March 20 on Nordvis Produktions.  For more information on Grift, visit their Facebook page.

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