Second Sun - Eländes Elände - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Second Sun - Eländes Elände

by Bill Golembeski Rating:8 Release Date:2018-09-21
Second Sun - Elandes Elande
Second Sun - Elandes Elande

Quite frankly, I will leave Tribulation’s Cookie Monster vocal metal music to somebody else’s collection.

But this record, which includes that band’s ex-drummer Jacob Ljungberg, can rock right next to my favorite 70’s albums by Uriah Heep (without the operatic vocals) and Wishbone Ash. And it can also find a nestled haven with my other favorite progressive rock bands from Sweden, like hard rock trio November, the truly excellent Rag I Ryggen, and the great Trettioariga Kriget. So, yes, they certainly rank with equally modern bands like Witchcraft and Graveyard, but this band doesn’t play to the heavy Sabbath sound, but rather, they have at times, a melodic folky rock ethos.

Of course, the vocals are in native Swedish. So, no heavy accents. And that’s a good thing. But better yet, it prevents me from singing along, as I often do, when my car stereo plays Heep’s “Easy Livin’,” Wishbone Ash’s “Warrior,” or even a lesser Deep Purple tune like “Maybe I’m a Leo.” You know “Easy Livin’” may be easy singin’ in the car, but the same can’t be said for a tune titled “Enda Sunda Manniskan i Varlden” or, for that matter, “Du Ska Se Att Det Blir Samre.” (And that’s even before the proper umlauts are added!) So, thankfully, with this album in my car player, the guy in the car next to me at a stop light doesn’t think I’m a singing idiot.

Although, and I’m no lip reader, I do believe the driver in that blue Subaru I saw today was, indeed, singing along to, of all things, “Hotel California.”

We, on our dear planet Earth, will never be able to leave that song.

Ah, but to the Swedish rock music point: The first two songs, “Vems Fel” and “Forneka,” rock with the best of British bands circa 1972. There’s a wonderous Wishbone Ash guitar flourish, a Chris Squire funky bassline, and the strong rhythm of (my beloved) Stray. And, yes, there’s a psych vibe in the mix, too. Keyboards color these tunes. This is just solid melodic hard rock.

“Noll Respekt” introduces a full-throttled organ attack, although, with a late 60’s shine, with a hint of The Stranglers. But once again, the guitar is melody specific, while those Swedish vocals are urgent and perfectly punctuate the music.

The keyboard becomes much more wonderous in a Ken Hensley Uriah Heep sort of way in “Sang Till En Slagen Kampe.” This is getting deeper into the complex hard rocking prog of all the records I worshiped in my youth. Sure, this is all retro. But I recall the great Jackie Leven’s sublime final refrain of “walking backwards through the snow” from Doll By Doll’s song “Janice.” It’s sort of like that. I love the snow, and walking backwards (speaking, of course, figuratively), only enhances the colors of memory, so who’s complaining? This album does just that: It revives and enhances the colors of past prog rock glories.

The before-mentioned non-sing-along “Enda Sunda Manniskan i Varlden” is even more impressive. The interplay of instruments conjures the underground brilliance of Uriah Heep’s album Look at Yourself. “Ingen Tid For Allting” is more guitar rock with even more of those slick Wishbone (or perhaps Thin Lizzy) melodic lead lines.  

Ditto for “Du Ska Att Det Blir Samre,” which was the other song I’ve never managed to karaoke car sing. This is, quite simply, great music that recaptures the beauty of rock music, circa 1972, Sweden style. And, please, listen to other Swedish greats like Samla Mammas Manna, Kebnekaise, and Kaipa. I’m biased, but I’ll buy anything on the Sonet or Silence label.

And then listen to this album’s slow-paced (and mandatory moment of prog rock introspection) “Det Betyder, raise an equally introspective glass, and let your heart drink a beat.

You know, that can happen in the native language of any country.

“Panikangestattatck” Is the musical onomatopoetic moment in the album. It’s frantic, and it rocks. And I don’t even speak Swedish.

The title track “Elandes,” oddly, isn’t the grand opus exclamation point expected ending. Rather, it’s a short (three minutes plus) but wind-swept instrumental finale with a Mick Box like guitar dramatic solo, not unlike the ending of Heep’s “July Morning.” The drums push the pulse, while the keyboards drift off into progressive rock space. And that guitar melody returns to the very first notes of the record. Walking backwards through the snow, or restating the beginning, is just a nice way to complete the musical circumference of any globe that spins in the orbital grooves of any musical universe.

And that’s the beauty of this album. Like Mark Twain may have said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” This record rocks, pulses, wobbles, and simply manages to rhyme with backwards steps toward the great prog rock ‘n’ roll bands I loved, and perhaps even worshiped, so many years ago. And I know because I was there; and yeah, those wonderous records spun around and around, and then they, just like the song from Heeps' album High and Mighty, left their footprints in the snow


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