|4.8 (2 votes):|
Snailmageddon’s ‘Swansong for a Snail’ may just be the greatest album centered around snails ever created. Now that I’ve gotten the obligatory and insincere snail metal joke out of the way, truth is often spoken in jest, and the debut album from this solo project is a legitimately beautiful creation. I typically find enjoyment in weirder bands or projects and Snailmageddon is no exception, crafting vivid fantastical imagery and greenery tinged with snails to the tune of epic black metal. Appropriately so, the album is a bounding romp of merriment, packed to the shell with hearty songs. A quick glance at the tastefully purple cover clues you into the joyous, creative and outlandish ride these snails will take you on: one of an otherworldly and mystical setting peppered by chanting choirs and playful melodies. This is the SNAILMAGEDDON.
Right from the get-go this album wastes no time and sets the tone perfectly. The moody synths and flutes engender a storybook atmosphere; an intro page to the magical tome before the energetic and colorful black metal comes into play. The folkish instrumentations and keyboards intertwine majestically and consistently throughout this musical stage-play. The folk-y instruments lend themselves to the album’s attitude of playful cheer, bounding, skipping, cheering and galloping with unending glee. This is the happiest black metal I’ve ever heard that didn’t devolve into avantgarde or 1st wave black metal adjacent music. It’s unmistakably black metal ferocity and vocals telling tales of fantastical snails and other animals in a ferocious yet fun way. Case in point is the album’s second, eponymous track, which shares a lot in common with folk metal. The music has a sense of scale that presents itself as grandiose and full of lore awaiting discovery, putting the ‘epic’ in ‘epic black metal’. Plus, it has a Jew’s Harp! Such a combination sounds hysterical on paper but works well in execution. In addition to this, the writing and compositions add ups and downs to each song and their audial stories therein.
Out of the 11 songs (if you purchased the OOP CD), the first 9 tracks are entirely original compositions and the last 2 are covers. There are the somber, slower moments of grief as seen on the track ‘Fox’ and ‘Livets deg’ but those are drowned out by the far more dynamic and positive tracks, like ‘A new beginning’ and ‘Queen of the cliff’. It’s important to have tender moments that slow things down and a mood that you need to stew in to fully appreciate, but Tommy fires at all cylinders, so much so that these slower songs are harder to enjoy. Most of the tracks are hits and there is no true bad song here, just ones that are better than others. There’s also a pattern to these tracks: the song opens with a symphonic/folkish/non-metal keyboard, cuts to some killer and melodic riffing, then integrates both aspects later in the song. Kind of a clever way to integrate these elements if you ask me. The last two tracks cover the Sailor Moon theme and ‘Cambodia’ by Kim Wilde. Yeah, this could either result in the best or worst songs of all time. The result? I can safely say that Snailmageddon’s style NAILS Sailor Moon and is an amazing song, let alone a rendition. The Kim Wilde song on the other hand? It’s not terrible, but is easily the weakest track of the album, and ending on it is kind of lame. I’m not sure if 80s new wave doesn’t translate well to black metal or I just don’t like the song. The cover is dull, especially so following the 43-minute ride we were just on.
Another complaint I have about the album is a bit more encompassing than one or two weak tracks: the mix. The guitars, drums and vocals at times are overshadowed by the abundant synths. The metal aspects are quieter than they ought to be, meeting little the wall of sound potential they have. If they were mixed better, the album wouldn’t incorporate nature, it’d be a force of nature! Speaking of nature, the production and tones bring the outdoor kingdom imagery of the album to full effect. It all culminates in visions of the greenest trees, standing atop vast valleys of impossible size, brimming with the purple magic of the natural world, powerful and free spirited, unable to be controlled. That’s right, nothing contains the fun had listening to this snail! All topped off by sole member, Tommy Andersson’s epic performance, effort tuned to 11 and skilled tuned to 12. Such a creative and talented individual deserves an album as great as this.
‘Swansong for a Snail’ will easily be seen on my top 10 of 2021. I know I make it sound like the fun factor is what sells this album, but it can’t be overstated how much I love the nature angle to it all. It seems in tune with the chaotic world it describes and creates, mirroring the glorious beauty of our earth, and brings it right to your headphones. I hope like many an epic black metal band before it, Snailmageddon becomes as prolific as the likes of Elffor and Summoning. Hails to the kingdom of snails!
Release date: March 19th, 2021
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