Saturday, February 21, 2009

Posted by xCHIPxSEM |
In the mid 90's, Umea Sweden became a hotbed for straight edge hardcore. They just started pumping out bands let and right...and the amazing thing was: most of them were really good. The first 2 as far as I know to gain some sort of recognition were Abhinanda and Refused. Both of these bands (especially Refused) left a big impression on the world of hardcore at the time as the floodgates opened causing new bands to emerge. Umea Sweden became THE spot in Europe for hardcore and everyone wanted to play there. Desperate Fight Records was the prime exporter of Swedish Hardcore and they had a great catalog of bands. They released a series of compilations called "Straight Edge As Fuck" which showcased the heavy hitters as well as the newer, younger bands that were just starting out. Eventually Victory picked up on Umea and signed a couple of their bands as well as distributed Desperate Fight in the US. The label eventually folded (I think) but most of their releases are still available through Amazon. In this feature, we take a look at some of the bands that were big players in the Umea scene in the 90s.

Refused were the biggest thing in Europe in the 90s. I remember hearing they won a Swedish Grammy and were even on national television numerous times. If you were sit and listen to their discography in order, you could hear the progression musically. "This Just Might Be..." has that 90s chug sound but "Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent" had a much more technical sound as did "The Shape of Punk to Come". Also the band was known for their style of dress as they went from baggy pants and hoodies to a much more clean cut button up and hair combed to the side style. Many were confused at first but later so many kids adopted this style as well. I still love their records and "Songs to Fan the Flames..." is my favorite, still worth checking out 13 years after it was released. The band eventually broke up and Dennis went on to International Noise Conspiracy.

Man Abhinanda was good. Another band that progressed musically as they grew as a band, I still rage to "Senseless". I LOVED their track (All Of Us) on the Straight Edge As Fuck comp which I still listen to pretty regularly. They were the first release on Desperate Fight Records (I think one of the guys in the band ran the label) and released all of their material on the label. The singer would occasionally sing in Spanish and even recorded a cover of "Disengage" by Youth of Today all in Spanish. The band eventually ran its course and broke up. I really have no clue what they went onto after if anything but most of their material, if not all, is still available and still worth checking out.

This is the one I get the most shit for liking. I love the Doughnuts, bottom line. The band was labeled as "the first all girl straight edge band" when they came to America in 94 (95?) with Snapcase. I didnt make it to the show but I heard loads of dudes that went were asking them to marry them during their set. They were the first Umea band to sign to Victory and released 2 records with them as well as 1 with Desperate Fight. As far as I know they never made it back to the US to support "Feel Me Bleed" which bums me out because I really would have liked to see them. The music was pretty technical but the complaint I would hear (and still do) is that they couldn't get into the vocals. The style was definitely different from what everyone else was doing but I dig it. Not sure what caused them to break up but one of them went on to International Noise Conspiracy. Oh, quick tidbit, the name Doughnuts actually means "monks" in Swedish.

Final Exit
I don't know a lot about Final Exit because the band was always shrouded in mystery. They were billed as the "Project X of Sweden" and featured members of Refused including Dennis. According to the Desperate Fight Records site, this is what they had to say about them:
"The members of Final Exit and Final Exit as a band where known for their uncompromising lifestyle (straight edge) and their hard, fast music. They where around since 87, from the beginning of the Umeå Hardcore scene. They released Teg, their first album in 94. 15 tracks of raw, brutal, hard, fast straight in your face hardcore classics. Their second and last album, entitled Umeå came in early 97 and it was backed up by the bands Final tour. The band had already realized that there was no place in today's hardcore scene for a band like Final Exit. They where TOO real and didn´t want to take part of todays fake scene..."

Shield were only around for a short while and released an amazing full length as well as a 7 inch. Their track on the "Straight Edge as Fuc
k" compilation is probably the first thing most people heard from them and what a way to start off. The song "Kaleidoscope" is so damn technical and all over the place. Their full length "Vampire Songs" is along the same lines and still worth checking out all these years later. The band broke up for reasons I do not know but try and find their records, totally worth it.

There were more bands but I felt that these mentioned were the ones that really defined the Umea sound best. If you dig this, check out Purusam, Saidiwas, Step Forward, and Separation.


David Agranoff said...

Important post. europe's syracuse? Poland had tons of rocking vegan bands. you should hit up Malik or pat from sunrise/daymares to write an article about poland.

You know i was never a big refused fan back in the day and about two years ago i saw the Rather be dead video and was blown away.

Great song.

xbojanx said...

Great post, really needed - it is great that you try to represent this side of the ocean as well. A lot of these bands deserve more recognition in my opinion. Shield's "Build Me Up, Melt Me Down" is one of my favorite albums of all time, and it was pretty popular here in Belgrade, even among those oldXschool-metal-free-scene type of guys.

Anonymous said...

hey dudes. I recently made a looooong interview with José, the singer of Abhinanda and Desperate Fight boss. It will be featured in a fanzine that is coming out in a month or so. This is basically THE José-interview and a great testimony over the Umeå scene. Anyone interested should get in touch with me via my bands myspace (please write in the subject line that you're writing to me and not the band).


Wow .. great post about umea legendary scene . Gone but not forgotten ... xxx

xroldx said...

Check out the interview I recently did with Dennis on Refused and The (I)NC here:

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one who gave the doughnuts any credit! Years ago (maybe '99 or so), I was setting up an interview with someone from Victory, and he asked who my favorite Victory band was. When I said the doughnuts, he said, "really!?" as if I were joking. Even their own label didn't give them any respect. Anyway ... awesome band.

Anonymous said...

I never knew, that Sara t(I)NC played in doughnuts before, quiet cool post.

there is also a discography coming up on MONUMENT swedish label

i also wrote you an email..
take care.

Anonymous said...

discography for FINAL EXIT, i forgot to mention

Toba said...

Nice timing with this post. Abhinanda actually did a small reunion show in Stockholm a few days ago. As a warmup for some shows they're doing in Japan right now. They're apparently mega stars over there.

Here's a nice clip of the opening song, Senseless:

Martin said...

"Oh, quick tidbit, the name Doughnuts actually means "monks" in Swedish." No it doesn't. However, we use the same word for monks and donuts (munk, munkar) for some reason. I wonder what came first!