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Metal, punk and garage

The new wave and punk-rock did not leave much of a mark on Scandinavia, but the area experienced a revival of the most ferocious garage-rock. Hanoi Rocks (1), in particular, deserve to be named next to the father founders of the genre. This Finnish equivalent of the New York Dolls evolved from the punkish callowness of Bangkok Shocks Saigon Shakes Hanoi Rocks (1981) to the catchy power-pop of Oriental Beat (1982) to the slick glam-metal of Back To Mystery City (1983). The Nomads played garage-rock with the intensity of heavy-metal, although their records, beginning with the mini-album Where The Wolf Bane Blooms (1983), were mainly collections of covers. This tradition peaked with Union Carbide Productions (1) and the satanic rave-ups of In The Air Tonight (1987). Dutch anarchists Ex (2) had begun in the militant vein of Crass but would continuously improve the quality of their cacophonous, incoherent bacchanals via increasingly challenging albums such as Blueprints For A Blackout (1983), Joggers & Smoggers (1989), Instant (1995), possibly their masterpiece, and Starters Alternators (1998). At the same time, King Diamond's Mercyful Fate (1) in Denmark focused on macabre themes on Melissa (1983). They pioneered black metal, a genre that would be particularly successful in Scandinavia. Bands such as Bathory, Mayhem and Candlemass ensured that gothic rock remained a leading genre for the rest of the decade. A number of Scandinavian bands adopted KMFMD's aggro style. Notable albums include: Excluded (1990) by Denmark's Klute (Claus Larsen of Leaether Strip); Pariah (1991) by Denmark's Sloppy Wrenchbody, Assassins Dk United (1994) by Denmark's Psychopomps Misery Loves Co (1995) by Sweden's Misery Loves Co.

The last major phase in the history of dream-pop was heralded by Norway's Bel Canto (3), the project of vocalist Anneli Drecker and multi-instrumentalists and Nils Johansen (which initially featured future Biosphere mastermind Geir Jenssen). White-Out Conditions (1987) owed its dark and icy appearance to the influences of laconic bards (Nico, new-age music, gothic rock, Dead Can Dance). Drecker matured on Birds Of Passage (1989), unleashing a supercharged persona over dynamic soundscapes worthy of a chamber symphony. Pared down to the duo of Drecker and Johansen, Bel Canto began to mutate into a less organic and more fashionable unit with Shimmering Warm And Bright (1992), a transformation that was completed by the lush, decadent dance-pop of the Bjork-influenced Magic Box (1996). Sweden managed to launch Roxette in the international charts with the elementary hooks of Look Sharp (1988).

Iceland's Sugarcubes (1), fronted by Bjork Gudmundsdottir, laid the foundations for the surreal dance-pop of the following decade with Life's Too Good (1988). The resilience of surf music around the world was proven by Laika & The Cosmonauts's C'mon Do The Laika (1988) in Finland.