Jan-Simon : How come Swedes can do what seems to be impossible in the Netherlands: create modern rock music with lyrics in their own language? To be honest, there are hardly any Dutch examples worth mentioning, and in Flanders, the Belgian region where Dutch is also used, it is better but not that much. Then take Sweden. Since the sixties the Swedish language has been used by (hard-)rock bands such as Träd, Gräs & Stenar and November, and more recently Dungen, Skraekoedlan and now Second Sun. They do not care that other than 10 million Swedes no one has a clue what they are singing about. And then again, did it matter for the Norwegian black metal bands twenty or so years ago? One does not necessarily need to understand the lyrics to enjoy the music. Perhaps that’s a lesson to all those Dutch bands out there?
Anyway, Second Sun. A band led by Jakob Ljundberg who used to be the drummer of Tribulation, a band that rather successfully blends progressive death metal and gothic. Ljundberg switched to guitar and vocals in Second Sun and only takes the penchant for melody and secret love for old-school hard rock like Thin Lizzy from Tribulation. It is no longer secret, the second album ‘Eländes Elände’ oozes (progressive) hard rock from all pores. Thin Lizzy, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, Blue Öyster Cult or even the long-forgotten Camel – just name a seventies rock band and it is in some way cited on this record in a way that will make even the most melancholic low-life go jumping through the room with a big smile.
‘Eländes Elände’ starts with the end. Yes, it is true. Just put the cd on repeat and you will understand. The album was recorded in two sessions that are notably different. The first part is almost poppy, with a catchy organ and the background vocals by Sofia Rydahl as reference points. In the second session both are gone, as Rydahl left the band during the recording of the album. Her place was taken by guitar player David Grannas and as a result ‘Eländes Elände’ has become a bit of two headed beast. Groovy, almost danceable seventies disco rock (didn’t Abba come from Sweden too?) on one end, a remarkable mix between progressive rock and early heavy meatl on the other. Who expected – given the background of both Jakob Ljundberg and drummer Adam Lindmark – something resembling death metal will be in for a big surprise. Instead of heavy riffs and deep grunts we get the almost falsetto like voice of Ljundberg who even tries (without much success as a matter of fact) to do ballads. After listening to ‘Det Betyder Allt’ it becomes clear that this band is much better when it plays the Abba-esque rock with organ of ‘Enda Sunda Människan i Världen’ and ’Du Ska Se Att Det Blir Sämre’, as well the as 100% punkrock starting ‘Panikångestattack’ or the instrumental title track that closes the album. And starts it.
Now that Ljungberg is no longer in Tribulation he can make his hobby project Second Sun his main job. ‘Eländes Elände’ is a first clue what this focus can lead to. Wayward, like Swedes can be and rooted in a psychedelic (prog-) rock tradition as Swedes are known for as well. ‘Eländes Elände’ is the next proof, after the amazing EP released by guitar player Jonathan Hultén last year, that Tribulation is a collection of remarkable artists who look far beyond the usual death metal cliché.