Skånska Mord

Paths to Charon

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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 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!

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