Swedish forest rockers BESVÄRJELSEN release their sophomore full-length “Atlas” today on Friday, May 27.
BESVÄRJELSEN comment: “Today we celebrate the release of ‘Atlas’!”, singer Lea Amling Alazam enthuses. “We would like to use this opportunity to give very big thanks to everyone who helped make this beautiful piece of music come together. We also send huge thanks to our label Magnetic Eye Records and its manager Jadd as well as to Studio Gröndahl and Karl Daniel Lidén for the great sound. And last but never least, we would like to thank everybody from the bottom of our hearts who is listening to ‘Atlas’ and has given us their support! See you all on the road!”
What to do when you like rock and doom born from the desert but your surroundings offer anything but arid lands? BESVÄRJELSEN found an impressive answer in the grim forests of their homeland in Dalarna, Sweden. Having grown up in the far north at the meeting grounds of ancient Norse and Finnish cultures amongst echoes of runes and gods, shamans and spirits, the spellbinding five-piece crafted their name from the Swedish word for “conjuring” while drawing heavy inspiration from local lore, mysticism, and the dark, old musical traditions.
Yet BESVÄRJELSEN are anything but another “pagan” outfit longing for a time that never was. On their sophomore full-length “Atlas”, aptly named after the mythical Greek titan who literally carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, the Swedes take a huge step toward the perfect wedding of melodic doom with subtle touches of prog as well as punk, folk, and classic rock. The distinctly urban component in the sound of these rockers is very much amplified by the outstanding vocals of Lea Amling Alazam. The charismatic singer took a fresh approach by embracing melodies and phrases of the grunge and emo sounds that defined her youth as well as African and Middle Eastern music – while keeping her characteristic bluesy undertones.
With its wistful melodies and towering riff-power, “Atlas” represents a logical progression along the course that BESVÄRJELSEN charted from the start. The band was co-founded by guitarists and vocalists Andreas Baier and Staffan Stensland Vinrot in 2014 with a clear vision to channel the spirit and traditions of the vast Dalarna forests, a region otherwise famous for its painted wooden horses, into contemporary heavy music. Andreas, coming from a background in punk and hardcore, had realised that by slowing things down, the music of BESVÄRJELSENwould gain in depth while allowing haunting melodies to exist alongside a cathartic heaviness.
Once vocalist Lea Amling Alazam arrived with a fiery passion for punk and stoner rock that had begun at the local skate park when she was just counting 13 years, Andreas and Staffan happily relegated their shared vocal duties to a supporting role – an easy choice as Lea’s distinctive voice summoned the intimacy and charisma of singers like NINA SIMONE or AMY WINEHOUSE.
BESVÄRJELSEN released their debut EP “Villfarelser” a year later in 2015, which was followed quickly by the “Exil” EP in 2016. Around this time, former DOZER and GREENLEAF drummer Erik Bäckwall joined the line-up as a permanent member. Both EPs, though self-financed and released with minimal promotion, were well-received and even gained airplay on Swedish national radio.
The Swedes’ debut full-length “Vallmo” hit the streets of Stockholm and elsewhere in 2018, shortly after Erik had convinced his DOZER and GREENLEAF bandmate Johan Rockner to join BESVÄRJELSEN on bass. “Vallmo” merged crushing riffs and storming drums with increasingly sophisticated melodies and thoughtful themes, which even earned the band a festival slot opening for DEEP PURPLE.
With the mini-album “Frost”, BESVÄRJELSEN intended to crush stages all over Europe in 2019, before being compelled into involuntary live performance hibernation (like every other band around the globe) for two years. Although forced to write separately, the band used the spare time to compile a wealth of ideas, amassed remotely and shared across the miles and months of relative solitude, which would finally result in the recording of “Atlas” with producer Karl Daniel Lidén in 2021.
Re-purposing melancholic harmonies that could have been derived from the playbook of ALICE IN CHAINS, adding gravity that would make Windhand proud, and topping their upgraded sound with exciting yet intimate vocal lines, BESVÄRJELSEN have carved a towering monolith from solid rock and planted it firmly into the magical woods of their homeland to send its heavy lay-lines around the globe.
Release date: May 27, 2022
Style: Forest Rock
Lea Amling Alazam – vocals
Staffan Stensland Vinrot – guitars, vocals
Andreas Baier – guitars, vocals
Erik Bäckwall – drums
Johan Rockner – bass
Recording at Studio Gröndal and Studio Glashuset, Sweden
Mix and Mastering by Karl Daniel Lidén
Art and Design by Besvärjelsen and Łukasz Jaszak
“Atlas” is available as blue and curacao marble vinyl LP and as Digisleeve CD.