Swedish hardcore band Raised Fist like to do things as they like to do things; they’ve been with the same record label (Epitaph) since they signed as teenagers in 1993, they turn down supporting bigger artists to support emerging ones, and they haven’t released an album in five years. On one hand, you could view this as something to earn respect, or you could see it as people who’re cutting off many opportunities, and letting this simmer into their music. New release, From The North, is as much a geographical statement as it is one to reflect their attitude. The Swedish north is often associated with the lower working classes, and those determined to fight with resilience to get what they want. This effort and energy has been transfused into this release, out January 19th.
Opening Flow is not without its hesitation; in fact, so shaky is the album’s commencement that it could even been deemed unsure of itself. Give chance for the track to come into its own, though, and it’s a whole new kettle of fish. I won’t argue that this record is progressive hardcore music (tetchy bridges and all), but with snappy, pulsing, staccato lyricism, it’s like Wiley or Childish Gambino got a hand in on writing the album. Moments of a hinted urban-dance vibe show up before frequently in Chaos; this edgy sound sets it a world away from the typical hardcore music of the UK scene. If this is what all Swedish hardcore music sounds like, I want to hear more.
Picking up where its predecessor left off, Man And Earth pulls in a pumped chorus and although frontman Alexander Hagman states that “these songs will not be played on the radio” (in regard to the coarse language), this one would be perfectly apt for the likes of Radio 1’s Rock Show. If you hear this outfit on the radio, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Hardcore fans – don’t be put off. You’ll find yourself chanting along to every track, even if when you focus on the sound, it surprises you a little for its originality.
Seventh Ready To Defy is the perfect example of the contagious combination of heavy rock and feisty hooks, and if I were to choose a song to sum up the record, that would be it. You could as easily imagine a crowd raving and moshing to the music as you could imagine it being played in the heavier end of clubs. It’s dance music for rock fans, and it’s hardcore music for those who could never quite get into hardcore.
From The North might have been a long time coming, but with every song as slick and defined as the next, it’s possible to sympathise with the wait that’s been necessary. If this album doesn’t go on to blow up across Europe… well, I think I might have lost some faith in the Europe hardcore scene. It’s accessible enough for everyone, and heavy enough for the rockiest of us.