The Power of Sweden

If you live in Europe, or Australia for that matter, it won’t have escaped your notice that the Eurovision song contest was held this weekend and Sweden once again won the honour. It got me thinking about why Sweden are so good at this contest (they’ve won it twice in the last three years and six times overall) and then to why Sweden seem to have such a high quality musical output across all of the genres.

Whilst I can’t provide a detailed answer to that question, other than to propose it’s because they’ve been brought up on a diet of ABBA, I can provide an overview of three of my favourite albums to have originated from the Scandinavian country.

In Flames – Come Clarity

In Flames are a long-standing melodic death metal band who have released eleven albums since their inception in 1990. Over the years their albums have become increasingly melodic and they have begun to integrate some electronic elements into their more recent work. The album that most stands out to me is their eighth effort Come Clarity, which alongside its follow-up A Sense of Purpose, managed to achieve the right balance between brutality and beauty, as showcased with the immense Dead End.

Recommended: Come Clarity, Reflect The Storm, Dead End

Pain of Salvation – Road Salt One

I’ve talked about Pain of Salvation before and maintain that they provide a refreshing take on the progressive rock genre. Road Salt One is the first part of a double concept album that tells its story not only through the lyrics, but through changes in musical styles, becoming increasingly darker as the record progresses. Road Salt One takes inspiration from classic rock, orchestral music, country and metal, which is all brought together in to a very tidy and focused effort – a pinnacle of their left-field career.

Recommended: She Likes To Hide, Sisters, Darkness of Mine

Wisdom of Crowds – Wisdom of Crowds

Wisdom of Crowds is a fantastic collaboration project from Jonas Renkse of Katatonia and Bruce Soord from The Pineapple Thief, which came to fruition in 2013 with the release of their self-tiled debut album. The combination of the two art rock veterans helped to produce one of the most unique records in the genre, with bleak soundscapes composed by Soord that are overlaid with Renkse’s powerful and emotional vocals. On a similar front, Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt’s Storm Corrosion project is another excellent British-Swedish duo effort, which narrowly missed on a place on this list.

Recommended: Radio Star, Frozen North, Stacked Naked

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– James

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