In metal today, pretty much everyone is familiar with the industrial glam band called the Deathstars. What they probably don't know, is that before the glam and the glitz of their current band, singer Whiplasher (Andreas Bergh), guitarist Nightmare Industries (Emil Nödtveidt) and drummer Bone W. Machine (Ole Öhman) were a part of the black-thrash metal band Swordmaster. Little known and underappreciated the band released two full lengths before finally disbanding in 1998. Their swansong effort Moribund Transgoria
perfectly illustrates a band that deserved to make it to the big leagues, yet due to unknown circumstances, just couldn't raise their fame to the next level.
Despite the unfortunate name of the band, Swordmaster is far from the power metal gimmick most would assume them to be; instead they choose to play a cunning brand of metal that not only contains the raw essence of black metal, but also harnesses the technicality and melody of melodic death metal. The band is certainly aggressive there is no doubt about that; however in songs such as “Sulphur Skelethrones”, guitarists Emil Nödtveidt and Erik Halvorsen temper their rather aggressive, chugging guitar fare with split harmonies reminiscent of Iron Maiden, saving their presence for only the most perfect of times. Over the course of the album Emil and Erik also reveal just how skilled they are as musicians, whether it is in technical thrash-like gallops (“Metalmorphosis – The Sweat of Cain”, “Moribund Transgoria”) , serene acoustic breakds (“Deathspawn of the Eibound”) or in the quick- fingered neo-classical inspired solos that appear in nearly every song.
The guitars aren’t the only aspect that Swordmaster can safely brag about however; vocalist Andreas Bergh’s wide range allows him to perform both black metal screeches and hoarse death metal gutturals, as well even his trademark deep clean vocals at times (“Angels and the Masters”) . During his tenure in Dissection, Ole Öhman demonstrated a style of extreme metal drumming that was quite unique; instead of using standard techniques, he felt the songs and provided only the beats and patterns that could best suit them. On Moribund Transgoria
it’s a pleasant thought to consider that he still hadn’t lost his knack for originality, providing fills and patterns that can only fit (and perfectly) fit within in the songs prevented on the album.
Upon first listen of Moribund Transgoria
, comparison to fellow Swedish band Dissection is avoidable; featuring Jon Nödtveidt’s youner brother as well as former Dissection drummer Ole Öhman, there is an undeniable resemblance between the two bands respective sounds. However Moribund Transoria
proves that Swordmaster is far from just another Dissection clone, that they are indeed a band that if perhaps were formed just a slight bit earlier, would rival their brother band in terms of influence, importance and skill.