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(In crust we trust review) Seven months in, and 2023 has proven to be a phenomenal year for brute-force crust releases. So many berserker bands – so many top-notch recordings – and the new EP from Swedish band Swordwielder, Wielding Metal Massacre, stands out as one the best.
Listen to that bone-rattling bass on Wielding Metal Massacre‘s bulldozing opener, “Weapons of the Dark Ages”. If your knees aren’t shaking, and your heart doesn’t feel like it’s about to burst – and you don’t feel like a thousand Vikings are about to come charging out of the mists – then you’re dead inside.
Like Swordwielder’s previous hårdpunk releases – see the massive-sounding System Overlord and Grim Visions of Battle (both HIGHLY recommended) – Wielding Metal Massacre finds Swordwielder utilizing the heaviest and filthiest weaponry from punk and metal’s armouries. Axe-wielding tracks like “Devil in Command” and “Envy the Dead” are devastatingly heavy, with Swordwielder’s grim riffs and gloomy atmospherics evoking god-forsaken scenes. Swordwielder have always honoured their influences, with the band’s apocalyptic sound owing a clear debt to old-school progenitors like Amebix, Axegrinder, Deviated Instinct, and Antisect. That’s more than evident on Wielding Metal Massacre, with primordially dark crust leading the charge on brooding epics like “Beneath a Blood Red Sky” and “Funeral Dirge”.
For all the band’s monolithic might, Swordwielder also exhibit subtler strengths as cleaner vocals and bare-boned musical passages add shade and shadow amongst all the crashing percussion and anvil-heavy riffage. Those moments of nuance are a reminder of how skilled Swordwielder are at writing but also arranging their songs so they achieve maximum impact.
Once again, Swordwielder set the bar for mammoth-sized crust. Wielding Metal Massacre‘s intimidatingly heavy tracks reek of stenchcore’s desolation and decay. Let skulls be split. Let the blood rain. Sure, the world is on its last legs. But bad times have never sounded so good.
(Wielding Metal Massacre Recordings, Profane Existence)