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DRAIN S.T.H.

"Freaks of Nature"
"Horror Wrestling"


"Freaks of Nature" (Mercury/The Enclave)drafrek.jpg (14293 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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Drain S.T.H. continue their brand of melodic metal on their sophomore disc "Freaks Of Nature." This second disc improves upon the debut by delving into well constructed riff-oriented songs. The songs are hard enough to bang your head to yet light enough to sing along with (the best way to describe it would be to say that Drain S.T.H. rock harder than Def Leppard yet lighter than Ozzy).

Drain S.T.H's songs move effortlessly from driving instrumental passages to verse riffs that are neither obtuse nor harsh. Overall the songs has more depth than Drain S.T.H.'s debut "Horror Wrestling" with superbly crafted pieces with layers of electric and acoustic guitars, slippery bass lines, and simple yet creative beats.

"Enter My Mind" has a definite '90s feel with bass and drums of the verses giving way to the crunch and turmoil of the guitars during the chorus. "Simon Says" is the most contemporary song that the disc offers; the introductory bass line is funky and very '90s while the lyrics are perfect for live performance. "Simon Says" has a solid verse followed by a great chorus hook only to be followed by a quasi-rap in the second half of the chorus. I was momentarily dismayed by the inclusion of the rap bit, but it plays more like a cheerful chant - it redeems itself by being quite catchy and the juxtaposition of Maria's voice, the rap and Flavia's cascading groove riffs makes for an interesting package.

"Black," co-written with the legendary Tony Iommi, features a huge doom-oriented riff that allows the band to flex its sonic brawn. The sturdy riff of "Leech" allows for a noisy and interesting guitar solo.   "I Wish" lets Flavia demonstrate the guitar skills that are getting her noticed across the globe - the acoustic rhythms provide a solid foundation for the vocal and guitar melody. "Get Inside" recalls the style of the debut album, but a great set of lyrics ("I lost what I just had to steal/what we had was so unreal/bleeding scars I tried to heal in me") and a rolling drum beat is an improvement on the first disc.

The sad lament of "Right Through You" describes the despair of a love gone wrong. "Alive" lurches back and forth with a groove and mammoth rhythm guitar. The slightly paranoid "The Bubble Song" provides a subtle respite that belies the dark lyrics. The desperation of "Crave" provides the disc with thick emotional weight. "I Will Follow" closes the disc with an avant-garde display of growling rhythms and gothic reverberation that is just left of center and keeps the listener off-guard.

Flavia's guitar tracks are perfect for the songs with the differing tones of her electric and acoustic guitars providing sonic motion and tension. Flavia has the opportunity to solo on a few tracks and keeps it simple yet devastatingly effective. Anna's bass lines are rhythmically just ahead of the beat providing forward motion and Martina's drums ring crystal clear in the mix. Maria's vocals still echo Layne Staley, yet this is not a detriment by any means. Drain S.T.H. have found a compelling combination in lead and background vocals when Martina's voice skillfully weaves her voice with Maria's lead lines.

Drain S.T.H. includes Martina Axen on drums and backing vocals, Flavia Canel on guitar, Anna Kjellberg on bass, and Maria Sjoholm on vocals.   As on the debut album, each member of the band contributes to the songwriting. The diversified songwriting combinations allow for a variety of songs on the disc.

"Freaks Of Nature" was produced by Sank (who has worked with Paradise Lost and Garmarna) and additional production was provided by Drain S.T.H. to achieve their uniquely heavy and melodic sound. The production allows each member of the band to shine; there is no cluttered or dense production that might detract from the music. 

For more information, check out the band's website at http://www.polygram-us.com/drain/.


"Horror Wrestling" (Mercury)drahorr.jpg (11460 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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Sweden's Drain S.T.H. deliver great hard-rockin' tunes in a vein that is similar to Ozzy Osbourne's bombastic guitar riffs, sweet melodies, and solid rhythms.

If you're familiar with the band at all you've probably heard them at OzzFest '97 as well as through the song "I Don't Mind" which garnered some radio airplay across the United States (the single also appears on the OzzFest '97 2CD collectors set). Luckily for us, the band has a lot more depth than just one single.

"Serve The Shame" is one of the disc's highpoints; the sturdy guitar riff and solid backbeat is great all by itself, but the pauses in the sonic attack allow the vocals to stand out. Why this song wasn't picked up by radio is beyond me. The Mercury re-release of this CD also contains an acoustic version of "Serve The Shame" that has an arpeggio to die for and has a aural atmosphere all its own without losing the power of the electric guitar version.

"Crucified" manages to meld classic '80s metal and a funky, swaying swagger that should manage to impress any heavy metal fan. A cover of the Motorhead classic "Ace Of Spades" is presented in an entirely different light than the original; using a slower, halting approach, Drain S.T.H. succeeds in breathing new life into a well-known song and making it entirely their own. "Someone" has a sinister chorus and wonderful lead guitar. The relentless "Stench" practically fills the air with pure emotion.

Some of the sounds on the disc are familiar: "Smile" and "Crack The Liar's Smile" both have reverb drenched vocals that recall classic Layne Staley despair and the guitar tone of "(So I Will Burn) Alone" evokes the wah-wah pedal sound of Jerry Cantrell - if sounding like Alice In Chains is my main problem with this disc then these really aren't complaints at all! Dense production reduces the impact of a few songs ("Klotera" and "Mind Over Body"), but not to the point of making them unenjoyable.

As a musical statement, "Horror Wrestling" stands on its own in a world where powerful, emotional music is hard to find. Drain S.T.H. present each song in its own light rather than bore the listener with a similar style throughout the entire disc. Drain S.T.H. provide enough diversity and exciting moments to really make an impression. After hearing "Horror Wrestling" one can easily imagine Drain S.T.H. achieving quite a bit of success in the United States.

Drain S.T.H. includes Martina Axen on drums and backing vocals, Flavia Canel on guitar, Anna Kjellberg on bass, and Maria Sjoholm on vocals.  Each member of the band has songwriting credits; the various combinations no doubt helped the variety of songs here. The album was produced by Adam Kviman (known for his work with Vasen and This Perfect Day). For more information, check out the band's website at http://www.polygram-us.com/drain/.


Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06 Mar 2016 12:47:08 -0500 .