Skanska Mord is:
Patrik Berglin: guitar
Petter Englund: guitar & backing vocals
Patric Carlsson: bass
Janne Bengtsson: vocals, harmonica
Thomas Jönsson: drums & percussion
Recorded at Lemon Recordings by Martin Ekelund.
Produced by Skånska Mord and Martin Ekelund.
Keyboards and cello by Martin Ekelund.
Vocals on Addicts by Ann-Sofie Hoyles.
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio, Ann Arbor, MI.
Live photos by Oscar Carlsson.
Sleeve design and layout by Peter Wallgren.
Fans of the current 1970's retro rock explosion can add another band to their list of pick-me-ups: Sweden’s Skanska Mord are yet another Small Stone signee with a taste for the Nazareths and Atomic Roosters of old.
There is also something of the Seattle psychedelic scene in ‘Paths To Charon’. Wah-wahing guitars (think Valis and Screaming Trees) open up the first track ‘Dark Caves of Our Mind’ on this sophomore record, while Jan Benggtson’s bluesy howl owes a bit to the vocal work of Alice in Chains' Layne Staley and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell.
The band’s lyrics range from the traditional doom’n’gloom of metal’s pioneers, with tunes like the plodding ‘A Black Day’ making no bones about the terrible state of things, while ‘Lords of Space and Time’ and ‘Alien Encounter’ take the listener on excursions elsewhere. ‘Laggasen’ eases things back a bit for its intro, with some tootling keyboards parting briefly for some harder-edged guitar work.
Folks with Graveyard, Horisont and Kadavar on their playlist should check them out.
- Andrew Carver
Has it been such a long time since I reviewed a Swedish band? Definitely not and yet here I am again with another band from the land of the very frozen north, SKÅNSKA MORD. Probably you might wonder afterwards what the hell does this name mean? For those that are not acquainted with Sweden, "Skåne" is a “state” in its very south part mostly famous for their very difficult dialect of Swedish; and "mord" is murder so it should mean murders in the land of Skåne. But while it really means that it is also the name of an 80s Swedish TV series about famous murders that happened in Sweden a long time ago. So now that the name is solved let’s see who are eventually SKÅNSKA MORD and what are they doing? Well they play ballsy stoner rock with a South American flavor into it and “Paths to Charon” is their sophomore full length album following “The Last Supper”.
Including a total of nine songs and going on for approximately 45 minutes, “Paths To Charon” is a record of stoner rock at its finest. In the first song, “Dark Caves Of Our Mind”, the band is unleashing a full scale instrument attack. Drums beating mercilessly, an Iommi-like lead in the guitar accompanied by harmonica and a bass bombing every drum beat with killer precision lead into the amazing vocals of Janne Bengtsson. A mix of BLACK SABBATHesque and bluesy references is what would describe best the song. While not the whole record goes like that, songs like “Lord Of Space And Time”, “Alien Encounter” and “Rising” are more or less on the same motive of classy stoner rock (I could almost say hard rock but oh well it’s at the same direction and tags are really crappy sometimes to describe that things, you let the music talk). Songs like “Addicts” or“A Black Day”, show the Bluesier side of the band taking a slow paced tempo and binding together gigantic riffs and female vocals. “The Flood” gets an even southern American attitude with the vibrating harmonica and gives a really vintage attitude. “Laggasen” is showing even some DEEP PURPLE and RORY GALLAGHER flavor and the absence of vocals comes by unnoticed (so yes it is instrumental).
There is actually nothing weird or bad to spot about the record, its production or anything. Everything is nicely implemented, the production is highly professional, the band is giving an outstanding performance, additions of Hammond and harmonica give a different flavor to the songs. But if you ask me what I liked most from the record I would say Janne Bengtsson’s voice as it makes the songs so bigger and better. So all seems good. The only thing that degraded through time is my enthusiasm for the songs. As I had this for a long time to review and I was listening to it while trying to finish the review that took me almost a month (hmmmm …) I eventually got bored of some parts of the songs, so I think they could improve on this part. So to conclude this review, after setting up my mind, I have to say that SKÅNSKA MORD have released a great release that would be highly appreciated for the fans of the kind. Playing a mix of old school stoner and hard rock with great dedication and passion, they have crafted a vintage album that can be the infrastructure on which they will build a great career. Go check em!
- Vasilis Odontidis
Firmly stationed at the altar of Soundgarden, Sweden’s Skanska Mord have every facet of late ‘90s alt-rock nailed perfectly; they have the same southern shimmy driving their melodies, punctuated with the same melodious, spiced soloing - vocalist Jan Bengtsson even has Cornell’s whisky ‘n’ honey yowl down pat. Far from being mere talented copycats, though, Paths To Charon is peppered with unexpected nooks and crannies, each containing treasures more precious than the last. Laggasen has a jazzy bounce that truly shows off the dextrously fluid twin guitars of Patrik Berglin and Petter Englund, The Ambassadeur glowers with prowling menace and Lord Of Space And Time is a heady, almost reverential, stoner rock gem. Without these colourful detours this would still be a solid slice of psych/grunge; with them, it’s simply a stellar rock album, full stop.
- David Bowes
Skånkska Mord are somewhat rare as a band because all members are from the same hometown, and while they didn't all start together as Skånkska Mord, they took full advantage of the demise of former bands to form a new, tighter, more highly skilled and motivated band, one able to meld their seemingly disparate and individual sounds into something quite strong and exciting, something powerful and intoxicating, something that more rightly expresses the artistic qualities within each member of the new formation. They've now been together since 2006 and have generated nothing but music of the highest timbre and quality, culminating to this point with "Paths to Charon"
They play a heavy, low tuned, and vibrant brand of psychedelic rock that slings the fuzz while wrapping a haunting and dark blanket of sound over magnificent, perfectly matched vocals from Englund and Bengtsson. The guitar work from Berglin and Englund is nimble and unforgiving as they inexorably carve their way through a thick, dense, nirvana of sound, all the while accompanied ably by Carlsson's monster bass and Jönsson's heavy caliber percussion.
- Nuclear Dog
Janne Bengtsson's Chris Cornell baritone bellow links this Swedish sludge club to '90s Seattle; Ann-Sofie Hoyles, his duet foil in "Addicts," shows him up. But beneath, there's more nuance: acid-rock wah-wah blues that tunnels through the stalagmite topology of opener "Dark Caves of Your Mind," crawls deep into the suicidal muck of "A Black Day," rejoices in rare Scandinavian sunshine in "The Ambassadeur." Best is when Bengtsson steps aside, in parts of "Alien Encounter" and all of fluid instrumental workout "Laggåsen," and his mates opt for intricacies of heavy jazz fusion or the Groundhogs.
- Chuck Eddy
Second album by this Swedish five-piece who meld 70’s rock with a latter day stoner rock vibe. Vocalist Janne Bengtsson is one of ths stars of the album as he can belt it out like Chris Connell or Myles Kennedy, which is needed given the heavy backing music. Highlights include ‘Addicts’, a real riff monster and featuring Ann-Sofie Hoyles on guest vocals, who adds a little light to the song. ‘Dark Caves Of Our Mind’ is a belter, lots of hevy guitar and an instant chrous. ‘Lord Of Space And Time’ sees the band drop into jamming territory, like a heavier version of say Widespread Panic. Engineer Martin Ekelund adds a little Hammond to the proceedings to nicely round out the sound. The band even delve into a klittle 70’s prog on ‘Laggåsen’. They certainly mix it up musically on this album and it’s a relief it is not wall to wall slow, stoner music on the album.
Good, solid rock music that stands up to repeated plays and sure to please those that listen to it.
- Jason Ritchie
Receiving an album from a Swedish retro rock band with cool artwork, a great album title and an evocative name had me salivating long before the CD had even hit the player. This is Skanska Mord’s second album following The Last Supper released in 2010.
My high hopes were quickly rewarded with the opening track ‘Dark Caves of Our Mind’, which bristles with an early ‘70s influence, infused with a doomy stoner vibe and highly original lyrics. Better still, the next track ‘Addicts’ is a hard rock duet featuring the great Ann-Sofie Hoyles of Spiders. Indeed the first clutch of tracks are phenomenal – powerful, punchy, anthemic and gritty by turns.
Thereafter the album loses its way slightly with the formulaic heavy boogie of ‘The Flood’ and rather nebulous instrumental ‘Laggasen’ but thankfully the pace picks up towards the end with the fabulous ‘Rising’ that closes things out.
So, not quite the world-beater I was hoping for but there’s still at least half of an incredible LP here that’s worth buying for the opening few tracks alone.
- Austin Matthews
Skånska Mord return with their 2nd album, Paths To Charon. This is their followup to 2010′s The Last Supper which was their debut also released through Small Stone Records. Skånska Mord’s sound is heavy, fuzzed out and partially psychedelic blues and hard rock. What really sets them apart though is the vocals. The vocals are very Chris Cornell sounding adding a bit of a Soundgarden feel to it.
Paths of Charon is one of those few albums that you can put on for the first time and not question what you’re listening to. No knowledge or listening of their debut is necessary to enjoy this one. However, it is recommended as well. The songs on the newest don’t take off to far from their predecessor, which isn’t a bad thing. One of the few things they do is add some female backing vocals on “Addicts” which sounds pretty kick ass. The little duet isn’t something that you hear to often in stoner rock.
You’d be quite the party pooper to not have heard this one. LP's are coming soon.
- Bill Goodman
Soundgarden lives! Not just the real, recently reconstituted article, mind you; we are talking about Sweden's answer to Seattle's finest here: Skånska Mord. In fact, the Swedes had already paid earnest tribute to this key influence with the noir alterna-metal of their 2010 debut, and that habit persists on 2012's Paths to Charon...to a point. On the one hand, many new tracks, including Soundgarden ringers like "Dark Caves of Our Mind," "The Ambassadeur" [sic], "Alien Encounter," and the title cut still boast abundant wailing Cornell-isms, muscularly itinerant Cameron-ish tempos, and alternately serpentine and grinding Thayil licks and riffs. Heck, even when Skånska Mord throw in a stray harmonica and atypical guitar solo (see "The Flood") or indulge their low-key ("Lord of Space and Time") or bluesier ("A Black Day") instincts, the similarities are there for all to hear, albeit recycled and repurposed rather effectively, and infectiously, one should say. But greater variety departures also figure in the mix here, like when the more jangly "Addicts" ropes in Ann-Sofie Hoyles for a welcome co-lead vocal changeup, and the instrumental "Laggasen" shadows its guitars with a jazzy organ, calling up memories of Deep Purple at their improvisational loosest. These departures are admittedly (and quite obviously) in the minority, but they do show Skånska Mord could easily branch out into new pastures if they wished to; yet, by and large, they appear content to carry on tampering with the Soundgarden template that is their comfort zone, to reshape those understandably alluring qualities into oftentimes intriguing new songs. Hey, better to worship Soundgarden than Poison!
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Swedish five-piece Skånska Mord follow-up their Small Stone debut with Paths to Charon, a second full-length that affirms the band’s blend of ‘70s and ‘90s heavy rocks. As with its predecessor, 2010’s The Last Supper (review here), there’s very little about Paths to Charon that’s striving to be modern, and yet the production is clean, crisp and not at all geared toward a retro mentality. The Örkelljunga band – comprised of former members of Sverige clans Half Man and Mothercake – let the classic structures, soulful vocals, occasional flourishes of organ (provided by recording engineer Martin Ekelund) and riff-led songwriting do that work for them. Guitarists Patrik Berglin and Petter Englund are at the fore for most of the album, but in the tradition of their countrymen in Abramis Brama, vocalist Janne Bengtsson provides a standout performance in the tradition of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, backed by Englund on the album highlight/longest cut “Lord of Space and Time” and by guest vocalist Ann-Sofie Hoyles on the earlier “Addicts,” the second song on Paths to Charon following the opener “Dark Caves of Your Mind,” an immersive, rocking start that sets a tone with its catchy chorus and classic-style verse riff. Amid a final build of swirling wah guitar and rhythmic push from bassist Patric Carlsson and drummer Thomas Jönsson, Bengtsson throws his harmonica into the mix to play up a bluesier vibe and it works well as a catalyst for the duet in “Addicts” to follow, on which the fuzzier guitar rests below Bengtsson and Hoyles’ shared verses while Carlsson holds the song together with a semi-shuffling bassline. Hoyles’ approach is breathy and fits well with Skånska Mord overall, but there’s a sense in putting that song up front, followed by the moodier “A Black Day” and “Lord of Space and Time” that Skånska Mord are frontloading the tracklisting, perhaps more than they necessarily need to. There’s plenty to Paths to Charon that characterizes the second half of the album over the last five tracks – and a vinyl-type side A/B structure both suits the band’s influences and Small Stone’s recent shift into the format – but on a final impression, a lot of what stands out about Paths to Charon happens over the course of those first four cuts.
That’s not to disparage the second half of the record, just to say that a lot of the stylistic elements it presents – the progressive boogie of “Laggåsen” or the more foreboding mood of “The Ambassadeur” – already make themselves known on Side A. If Paths to Charon were 65 minutes long, this might be a real sticking point, but at 44:44, Skånska Mord’s sophomore outing doesn’t lose its straightforward heavy rocking appeal to redundancy. Jönsson effectively propels the early verses of “Lord of Space and Time” with his snare as the guitars cycle through the riff until breaking to a slower groove shortly before two minutes in. Here Bengtsson rests farther back vocally than anywhere on the album, and it works both to change up the approach and add psychedelic vibing to Skånska Mord’s otherwise organic but still earthbound aesthetic. Their build is patient, rising first, then falling again, before playing out its subdued course into the CD centerpiece “The Flood,” which proffers a mid-paced hook of a riff complemented in breaks by Bengtsson’s harmonica. There isn’t much to distinguish “The Flood” as the centerpiece – the song’s bounce is effective and in its later moments, Carlsson kicks into a few choice bass fills under a likewise impressive guitar solo, but especially after “Lord of Space and Time,” it’s something of a comedown, though it works well transitioning into the change of course that “Laggåsen” brings on, with its classic prog vibe and tight rhythmic execution. Skånska Mord never really tap into the retro rock put forth by an increasing number of their countrymen – again, their sound is natural, but not necessarily analog or “vintage” seeming – but the sixth track is as close as they come, a sweet melody playing over forest-type bounce, keyboards and guitar leads working in post-blues tandem, Jönsson’s snare runs sounding richer than anywhere else on Paths to Charon for the extra space around them. All instrumental, the quieter jam picks up to full heavy breadth twice but doesn’t ever really telegraph where it’s headed, so as to snap you out of hypnosis as quickly as it put you under.
Ahead of closer “Rising,” “The Ambassadeur” and “Alien Encounter” make a quick pair, the former stood out with a doomier progression, slower pace and darker atmosphere. The chorus finds Englund backing Bengtsson (unless he’s backing himself), and they seem to be touching on a darker feel that’s actually more in line with the title Paths to Charon (Charon being the boatmaster across the River Styx into the underworld) and the deep blues and greens of the artwork, but nonetheless a shift from most of what the album has trafficked, however much “A Black Day” may have hinted at more brooding material. “Alien Encounter” is more guitar-led. Written by Berglin, it’s a classic riff rock that Bengtsson does well fronting in both verse and chorus, as the track veers during its bridge into psychedelic twin guitar soloing and a swirl of bass and drums that’s reminiscent somewhat of “Laggåsen” while also remaining a comparatively bright answer back to “The Ambassadeur.” They end on the chorus and “Rising” takes hold, Bengtsson quickly introducing the mid-range verse over an instantly familiar, nodding groove. In its structure, the finale is something of a complement to “Lord of Space and Time” – moving from its verse/chorus mindset into more open, spacier jamming, but the chief difference is where the earlier track hit its peak and then went back into the jam to finish out, “Rising” holds to its build and ends with authority in a final chorus, giving the guitar, bass, drums and even the harmonica of the earlier break a direction, something they’re driving toward. It may be Skånska Mord’s second album, but none of the members of the band are novices when it comes to songwriting – one need only explore Half Man’s 1999 debut, The Complete Field Guide for Cynics, if you don’t believe me – and the culmination of “Rising,” which at 5:10 is still more than a minute and a half shy of being the longest track on the record works efficiently to prove it. Skånska Mord aren’t breaking any new ground in these songs, but they prove well schooled in the aspects that make their genre what it is, and dogwhistling classic inspirations with a modern context isn’t at all something I’m about to hold against them when their songcraft is so accomplished. They’re preaching to the converted, but why not if it’s the converted who have ears to hear it?
- H.P. Taskmaster
Not as hardly pronounceable as the recently reviewed finnish band Gniyrg Gnaarg but still with a name that sounds mysteriously scandinavian, here's SKANSKA MORD, coming from Sweden and delivering their sophomore album "Paths to Charon"...
Hum... not that mysterious in fact, as this name is a reference to a local TV serie that was relating about old murders comitted in this swedish land called Skane (thanx Michael Olofsson for the infos !). Knowing this and refering to the gloomy cover of the album, you could then expect something fierce and utterly dark, which would be a real mistake... !
First, let me remember you that this follower to their debut "the Last Supper" is (again) released on Small Stone recordings, an excellent label which obviously likes it HEAVY but is more reckoned for warm, melodic and earthy sounds than some bleak and vicious stuff !
From the first notes of "Dark Caves of our Mind", it won't take you too long to notice that SKANSKA MORD is indeed bringing to the table a sound that drips influences such as Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Cream, Black Sabbath, Mountain.... with plenty of heavy guitar riffs - more bluesy and snappy than psychedelic and jamming- , pounding rythms, swirling and harmonious solos. If this had to be affiliated to Stoner, then this is to my ears an approach that could remind Spiritual Beggars, meaning no Metal hints, nor Hippie orientations (which doesn't prevent to sound firmly 70's and slightly psyche...)
Compared to their solid but maybe a bit too timid and classic debut, a prompted work has been matured on the composition and production with a more powerful overall and more varied soundscapes at the same time. Just as example the songs "Lord of Space and Time" and "the Ambassadeur" introduces some stunning Doomy parts, it's nice how then the band's sound gets heavier and darker while keeping its groovy sense of melodies.
Where this was already unappropriated on their debut, I hope that the unrelenting vocals of Janne Bengtsson will now be preserved from any akward comparison with Chris Cornell !? ok his vocals are deep and warm but it can just lead to a false appreciation of the rich extent from his register which is also regularly soulful and earthy like on "a Black Day" or "Addicts", plus uncounsciously or not this could lead to think there's some grunge and/or mainstream hints in here which is absolutely not the case...
The instrumental song "Laggasen" and "Lord of..." (my fave from the album and in my top 3 for THE song of 2013) value a certain taste for some nice progressive structures, both have an epic built edge which bring something more luminous while basically still infectious and bluesy... tasty !
There's certainly not only Witchcraft and Graveyard that deserve attention in the swedish retro-heavy rock scene and this is more than proven here; "Paths to Charon" is a very very strong concoction of 70's guitar riffs/Heavy rock grooves, full of beautiful melodies that nicely rocks, definitely one of my greatest surprises and fave albums of this year... so now I wisely encourage you to take a deep breath and dive hypnotically into SKANSKA MORD !!!
- Steph LS
Goddam how do Small Stone Records do it? Their knack for sniffing out killer bands to release is almost supernatural. It’s as if Small Stone head honcho Scott Hamilton is Simon Cowell in some alternative reality where music doesn’t suck!!! I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad record from the Small Stone stable and Skånska Mord do nothing to tarnish the reputation of their pay masters.
“Paths To Charon” is the follow up to their 2010 debut “The Last Supper” and despite having a title that sounds like some dodgy early 90’s death metal band, shows that Skånska Mord have a heart and soul firmly rooted in the early 70’s.. From the opening bars of opening track, “Dark Caves Of Our Mind” with its fat assed groove, wailing guitar heroics and harmonica it’s clear that these Swedes are out to impress. When Janne Bentsson’s vocals rich bluesy vocals kick in it’s clear these guys have something very special.
This album is a rich amalgam of the sounds that made the 70’s such a revered and sought after decade…”Addicts” throws in a heavy dose of the blues which harks back to forerunners such as Cream and their progeny, bands like Mountain and Cactus with a progressive nod to Deep Purple. To try and find a modern comparison would send you towards bands such as Siena Root who also nail this retro, soulful, bluesy hard rock with a hint of psychedelia. A tour featuring both bands would be a tie dye and patchouli orgy!!! The comparison is particularly evident on instrumental “Laggasen” which rolls along on a vintage mellow jazz groove and betrays some of their progressive influences.
Skånska Mord also know the value of dynamics. Although they sit very naturally in a nice fat heavy groove they are aware that light and shade is a huge part of what makes rock and roll so appealing so when they ease back on the throttle on songs such as “A Black Day” they allow their personality to shine through and allow the vocals to plumb the depths of Bengtsson’s soul!!! The effect is of a heavier, darker Pink Floyd. In contrast a song such as “Lord Of Space And Time” is relentless and heavy with a majestic chorus that shows the band are masters of melody as much as they are the riff. It’s also good to see a band that isn’t afraid of a guitar solo and of stretching a song out to give it room to breathe. You definitely get the impression that this is a band that thrives on the ability to work up songs through jamming together and the effect is almost hypnotic at times.
It’s almost impossible to go through a review of a band so steeped in 70’s heritage with making some mention of Black Sabbath and on “The Ambassadeur” things do take a decidedly darker turn. Bordering on doom Skånska Mord show they’re equally at home with the heavier sounds as they are the more blues based or pastoral sounds. The level of drama they reach on the chorus here would make an entire class of stage school kids look positively autistic!!!
I could write pages pages of rhetoric about how great this album is but the proof of the pudding is definitely in the eating and with Skånska Mord it would be very easy to become morbidly obese on rock!!! Check the menu and order yourselves up a big plateful…with second helpings!!!
- Ollie Stygall
I’m sure Skånska Mord singer/mouth harpist Janne Bengtsson is tired of the Chris Cornell comparisons (hell, I even made one when I reviewed their 2010 debut The Last Supper, so this makes me twice guilty now), but if it eases the annoyance any, Skånska Mord is everything Soundgarden wishes it was, especially after that “Live to Rise” dreck the resurrected Seattle band laid on us this summer. To their own then, Skånska Mord is a high holy stoner blues outfit doling out giant chunks of Swedish hard rock like Santa Claus in a Grand Funk Railroad t-shirt, and unless you’ve been exceptionally bad this year, you need not miss out on this big-balled gift. I previously accused the band of flirting with a mainstream heavy sound, but Paths to Charon has served me notice to shut the fuck up, its choice riffs reaching even deeper into the 70s ethos this time around to pluck out as much boogie and groove as they possibly can, with songs like “Addicts” (featuring Spiders’ Ann-Sofie Hoyles on vocals) and “A Black Day” setting that rock n’ soul tone nice and early. There’s still plenty of brawny strut thanks to songs like “Dark Caves of Our Mind,” “The Flood,” and “Alien Encounter,”
- Jeff Warren
Skanska Mord is a fuzzy Swedish psychedelia band signed to the local Small Stone Records. Besides the fact that Paths to Charon has some awesome art on the cover, the music is fucking sweet. Talk about “fuzzy”, it almost sounds like there's a haze of hash smoke between the singer’s mouth and the mike, between the plectrum and the strings. Think Soundgarden and Monster Magnet at their most anthemic. Not sure how it's possible to be this heavy and chilled out at the same time.
- Brett Callwood