In 2011, something unexpected happened. The most perfect homage to American westcoast pop sounds appeared in the shape of a debut album by a band named State Cows. Bits of Toto, Airplay, Maxus and pretty much everything with that vibe from 1978-81 was reborn in an almost flawless contemporary recording. It was almost impossible to tell whether the recordings had been sitting in a vault since 1980. Even more unbelieveable, these wondrous American sounds were recreated in a much less sunny Sweden. For westcost lovers, tracks like ‘New York Town’ and the wryly humorous ‘Stella By The Barlight’ became fast and firm favourites. Two years on, the aptly named ‘The Second One’ brought more of the same, but was perhaps a little weaker in places. Not that State Cows had lost their knack for retro sounds – the songs were very strong; it was more that element of surprise was gone.
Formed from the ashes of several local acts in 2016, Swedish melodic metal band In Silence took a while before they got around to recording their debut EP. Like most bands, they honed their craft with various live shows before releasing any studio material, but ‘One For All’ kick starts their recording career with a bang. The three featured songs are hugely contemporary for the time of release and the production values are nice and sharp throughout. Simply put, there’s nothing about this recording that sounds low budget, half-arsed or like the work of a band that wasn’t absolutely ready.
Humanity Delete’s second album, the retail-unfriendly titled ‘Fuck Forever Off’, was a great piece of death metal. For those able to make it past the terrible name and even worse sleeve art, the album showed how it was possible to take classic death metal tropes, shake them up a little and come up with something that felt traditional and yet still new and relevant. Often sounding like a death metal infused Lamb of God, these Swedes definitely showed an ability with a riff.
Diskopunk have been slowly releasing tracks across digital platforms since 2016. It was looking increasingly like they were going to tease the world with bits and pieces forever, but the beginning of 2019 brought a self titled EP and, with that, finally something more substantial for those who’ve enjoyed the previous digital singles.
In terms of their very European electronica, the bulk of this self-titled release is very assured in the way it throws catchy hooks into melodic beats. It also isn’t afraid to feel like throwaway fun at times either, but what comes across most is that old Scandinavian gift for a strong melody – something that’s often obvious throughout, even if you’re not really that big on dance oriented stuff.
When they unleashed their debut ‘All The Way’ in 2014, Scandinavian melodic rockers State of Salazar released one of the year’s best albums. With some great choruses and tunes that often paid a massive homage to the mighty Toto, the band hit upon a classic retro style that really tapped into the Swedes’ knack for a melody. The next couple of years came and went. The more time passed, the more it felt like there would never be a follow up.
A four year silence was finally broken in September 2018. First, the band announced they’d be appearing at the Frontiers Rock Sweden festival with label mates Eclipse and Crazy Lixx, but better still, a digital single ‘If You Wait For Me’ appeared on YouTube. Not only were State of Salazar back, but it seemed they were about to make a real impact within the AOR community.