*** DRAIN STH
“Freaks of Nature”
For all the heavy metallic elements tumbling about its second album, this Swedish quartet hammers in enough sturdy song structures and melodic airs to keep it from sinking into a grungy rut.
At its harshest (“Crave”) the group churns up waves of sludgy, molten rock, but tempers them with cool harmonies; at its most benign (“I Wish”), it immerses itself in bittersweet moodiness without losing its gritty edge. In between there’s plenty of Alice in Chains angst rattling around (notably on “Alive”) and some powerful spells of Black Sabbath ambience. Sabbath’s Tony Iommi co-wrote “Black Is Black” with singer Maria Sjholm and bassist Anna Kjellberg, and guitarist Flavia Canel nails the choruses in place with a riff that’s almost a direct lift from Ozzy Osbourne’s “No More Tears.”
But the group also works in some less predictable ingredients. “Simon Says” forgoes the garish rap-rock approach that’s all the rage these days for a subtle hip-hop undercurrent that surfaces in the few calm stretches. Other tracks are tinged with just enough electronic effects to lend the tunes a faint industrial aura. Not freakishly original, but striking enough to leave a lasting impression.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.