Generous Maria

Command of the New Rock

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Musically, Sweden is a country that has been moving in many different directions. Sweden is famous for the frothy Euro-dance grooves of ABBA and Ace of Base; it has also given us a wealth of jazz musicians over the years. Sweden is famous for the Cardigans; the country has also produced an abundance of Occult-obsessed, mosh pit-loving death metal and grindcore bands. But not all Swedish metal is that extreme. Command of the New Rock, Generous Maria's first full-length album, is a perfect example of Swedish metal's more melodic side. Totally unaffected by the Scandinavian death metal/black metal/grindcore scene, these Stockholm residents play stoner rock that is aggressive but groove-oriented, and never without a strong sense of melody. This 2003 release has the usual stoner rock ingredients: fuzzy guitars, a major Black Sabbath obsession (along with elements of Hawkwind and Blue Cheer), and an interest in the supernatural. And, like many other stoner bands, they combine their '70s influences with an appreciation of grunge and early-Sub Pop-style sludge metal; in fact, lead singer Göran Florström sounds like a combination of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose. This CD isn't groundbreaking; Generous Maria's basic format -- Sabbath, Blue Cheer, and Hawkwind meet Nirvana, grunge and early-Sub Pop -- is a very familiar approach in the stoner rock field. But if Generous Maria are followers instead of leaders, they're still darn good at what they do. Tracks like "Ashram of the Absolute" and "Firebug" are hard to resist if you crave a blend of aggression and melody; Generous Maria are forceful, but they're also intricate and highly musical. Derivative or not, Command of the New Rock is a disc that stoner rock enthusiasts will be happy to add to their collections.

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