Written by Ellis Heasley
Knivad – Insidans Ärrvävnad
Crust punk from Gothenburg, Sweden
Releases on October 29, 2021 via Suicide Records
With a name that loosely translates to “stabbed in the throat”, the intro to this review of the new record from Swedish crust punks Knivad practically writes itself. Formed in Gothenburg in 2011, the four-piece deal – for the most part – in a raging mix of D-beat driven hardcore injected with what can only be described as a typically Scandinavian bleakness. Despite having existed in some form for a full decade now, Insidans Ärrvävnad is only their second full-length, a long overdue follow-up to 2012’s Ryggen Full Av Kniv. With lyrics, in Swedish, detailing real life events and “the dark side of human suffering”, it makes for grim listening regardless of whether you can understand what the band are saying.
While it’s not all they do on this record, Knivad are at their best on Insidans Ärrvävnad when they really put their foot down. The opening one-two of “Avdelning 369” and “Deras hat” prove this well, both running along with a constant pressing urgency and a strong raw and live feel. Elsewhere, the barking blackened mania of fourth track “Sömnlösa nätter” makes for a solid first-half highlight, while later tracks like “Jag blev ingenting” and “Ett övergrepp” maintain a similarly snarling fury. On all these tracks, and indeed throughout the record, Knivad’s vocalist provides a rabid and anguished focal point, delivering (presumably) bleak lyrics in a tortured, scorching hardcore bark.
As mentioned though, Knivad can be more than just fast and furious on this record. The results here are a little more mixed – third track “Häktad (skriv att jag är skyldig)” is probably a little too plodding to justify its five-minute plus runtime for example – but they can be solid enough nonetheless. Eighth track “Förbrukad” feels like the obvious choice here, this one interspersing the band’s more razor sharp blasting with moments of relative quiet and straightforward metallic stomp for surely the most dynamic song on the record. Closer “Jorden satt i brand” shines too, its five and a half minute runtime again highlighting a more blackened influence before fading to a lone ominous guitar backed by quietly distorted textures.
It’s also arguably in the album’s slower moments where the band demonstrate a different side to their darkness. Even the aforementioned “Häktad (skriv att jag är skyldig)” boasts an element of creeping horror to it, this driven especially by the more atmospheric lead work of guitarist Jonas. The same is true of “Dricka för att glömma”, this one adding some demented piano tinkering to proceedings for good measure. It’s grim, gloomy stuff, but still manages to maintain enough energy so as not to derail the general urgency of the record.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Clocking in at 35 minutes, Insidans Ärrvävnad is a pretty sensible length, if not a touch on the long side for this kind of thing. While it’s definitely best when the band turn things up to 11 for the more breakneck crust punk ragers, there’s no denying their ability to conjure a sinister atmosphere in whatever they turn their hand to. It might not ruin your day (meant as a compliment) quite like some of this year’s most horribly heavy releases, but it makes a pretty good go of it nonetheless.