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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review: Raubtier - Bärsärkagång


Raubtier, a three-man outfit hailing from, literally, the top of the world, high up north in Sweden, was born from the ashes of thrash band Hunter/Killer back in 2007. Guitarist/singer/composer/writer Hulkoff teamed up with drummer Buffeln to fulfill their musical vision and that turned out to be an excellent move. After a couple of line-up changes on the position of bass player the band finally found stability when (Jonas) Kjellgren replaced Gustaf Jorde on bass in 2011.

Raubtier’s approach to music is simple. They combine non-complex thrash with industrial components into their trademark: A heavy, powerful yet catchy sound with, at times, power metal speed and ditto riffs. As for lyrical themes, that too has been kept simple, with military themes and outdoor life more or less the leading subjects. This simple approach is in no way an indication for the quality of their music though. Their songs are usually solidly composed, which they once again prove with ‘Bärsärkagång’, their fifth full-length album including their ‘Best of’ release from 2014. When you’re familiar with Raubtier’s previous work, you won’t be too surprised with this new release, which in my opinion isn’t a bad thing at all. Their music is clearly meant to be easily accessible and you’re bound to move along with the tunes before the first song has ended, and ‘Bärsärkagång’ is no exception to that concept.

Right off the bat all hell breaks loose with title song Bärsärkagång, immediately causing your brain to send an irreversible signal to your neck muscles to do their thing. High speed, pulsing riffs, thumping drum- and bass lines, a howling solo and a growling voice that could cause a full-blown riot anywhere, all characteristic Raubtier elements, but damn’, some way to open an album. For variation the boys turn down their rage a notch in the next song, Bothniablod, after which they slow things down even more in Den sista kulan and Levande död, never losing touch with their musical roots for even a second. The style of playing, the striking voice, the entire composition of the songs, it all breathes Raubtier, despite the slower pace.

And that is pretty much the blueprint of the entire album: high speed songs interspersed with slower paced tunes, all dipped in a thick cover of Raubtier-sauce. Whether it’s the slower, heavy Röd snö, the light, almost cheerful Tropaion, the massive Hymn or the adventurous, classical ending Lejonhjärta, every single song on this album is instantly recognized as Raubtier’s work without giving you the idea that you’re listening to the same tune with only slight variations over and over again. Clever composing.

Like I said, ‘Bärsärkagång’ won’t surprise many people, because it is what it was supposed to be, and that is a Raubtier album. That does not mean this is an average album, on the contrary, it’s actually very good, well worth the 45 minutes of playing time more than once. Raubtier has a very distinct sound, mainly due to Hulkoff’s vocals, which is easy to detect in every single song, yet they manage to build quite some variation into their songs, preventing the songs from getting monotonous and boring. I slightly favor the faster songs, with Bärsärkagång and Tropaion as top songs in my opinion, but in fact I couldn’t find a bad song on the entire album. It’s an album that can and most likely will charm a widely varied crowd of metal fans, because of its straight-forward approach and catchy but heavy compositions. If they can keep this up, they could have a great future ahead of them, even outside of Scandinavia. They might want to consider translating their lyrics in English to reach more people, but in all honesty the Swedish lyrics are not troublesome at all in my opinion. They seem fitting, although I would like to know what they sing about a bit more precise than my very limited knowledge of Swedish provides me with. Nevertheless a recommendation from me, it’s a pleasure to play this one.

Written by Henric van Essen

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