About a month ago we featured some brutal death metal crafted for the purpose of putting you in the right frame of mind for pumping iron in the gym and destroying emo posers at the same time. The name of the project was One Handed Skull Crushing. It was a side project of three musicians in Sweden, though at the time we didn’t divulge their main projects.
It’s now time to do that, at least for one of them. The more serious musical endeavor of bass player Axel Berglund is a Gothenburg band called One Inch Giant, and that band has just self-released their debut album, Malva. The musical style is dramatically different from that of OHSC, and although it may not appeal to all fans of the skull-crushers’ music, I’m been having lots of fun listening to it. As you can see, the album art is also wonderful. It’s by an artist named Emma Ekstam, and it depicts the small realm of Malva, in which all the phenomena described in the lyrics take place. To see more of Ms. Ekstam’s eye candy, go here.
I suppose the music of One Inch Giant is best described as stoner metal, though within that general genre description the six songs on Malva display considerable variety, and you don’t need unusual bladder control to get through them. All the singing is clean and all the songs are distinctively melodic. In fact, some of you might classify some of the songs as bluesy rock instead of metal, though all of them have got a satisfying element of heaviness in company with all the melodic hooks, and some are just flat-out heavy as fuck. (more after the jump . . .)
The music includes groaning, fuzzed-out riffs and thrumming bass lines, churning out the kind of sludgy, blues-tinged jams that cause your gut to rumble. There are distorted, slithering guitar leads, soulful clean guitar solos, and drums that suitably boom and crash. As for variety, you’ll find a swampy, southern-style rocker in “Ripe and Bold”, a doom-y bruiser in “Fur of the Lord”, a slow, almost tranquil melody in the second half of “Train of Lies”, a nasty sludge-drenched crawl for most of “Echoes In the Night”, and a crushing dose of near-funeral-doom at the start of”Treasures That Betray” before it ramps up and starts to roll like a boulder. But all the songs also include memorable melodies and rhythmic hooks; this band shows a real knack for good songwriting.
Of course, no matter how accomplished the songwriting or the instrumental performances may be, bands that play this kind of music can sink themselves without appealing vocals. Fortunately, Filip Åstrand has got a good voice — clear and controlled, capable of soaring effectively in the more anthemic passages, but with enough grit to avoid becoming pretty, which of course would be a terrible thing. Don’t get me wrong — I can still only take clean singing in small doses before I have to run back to something voraciously bestial, but the quality of Åstrand’s vocals make Malva one of the albums I’ll be using for the small dosing.
Here’s the opening track on Malva — “Ripe and Bold”. It includes not only a killer lead riff but also a cool, bluesy solo. I’m betting it will get your head moving.[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/One-Inch-Giant-Malva-01-Ripe-and-Bold.mp3|titles=One Inch Giant – Ripe and Bold]
By the way, if you haven’t yet checked out One Handed Skull Crushing, we’re still offering a free download of OHSC music here. Axel Berglund isn’t the only practitioner of the brutal arts within the ranks of One Inch Giant. Guitarist Gabriel “Abbe” Lugo Méndez is also part of a Swedish death metal band called Rapacious Ravishment. You can stream their May 2011 EP Spawned From Absurdity on bandcamp here.
Here are links you can use to stream all of Malva and to find out more about One Inch Giant. Via the bandcamp link, you can also buy the Malva EP, either as a physical CD (about $7.50 plus shipping) or as a digital download (for less than $4):