Deriving their name from the Swedish word for “conjuring,” the Dalarna, Sweden-based heavy metal/heavy psych outfit BESVÄRJELSEN — founding members Staffan Stensland Vinrot (guitar, vocals) and Andreas Baier (guitar, vocals) with Lea Amling Alazam (vocals), Erik Bäckwall (drums) and Johan Rockner (bass) was formed back in 2014 by its founding duo of Vinrot and Baier, with the clear vision of channelling the spirit and traditions of the Dalarna forests, a region famous for painted wooden horses and for being the meeting ground of ancient Norse and Finnish cultures , into contemporary heavy music.
Baier, who has a lengthy background in the region’s punk and hardcore scenes had come to realize that by slowing things down, BESVÄRJELSEN’s music would gain depth while allowing haunting melodies to exist alongside a cathartic heaviness.
When Baier and Vinrot met Lea Amling Alazam, who can trace her passion for punk and stoner rock to being a 13 year-old, hanging out at the local skate park, they happy relegated their shared vocal duties to a backing role. As a trio, the band released their first two self-financed and self-released EPs — 2015’s debut Villfarelser and 2016’s sophomore effort, Exil, which received critical praise and airplay on Swedish national radio with minimal promotion. Around that time, Erik Bäckwall, a former member of Dozer and Greenleaf joined the band as a permanent member.
Bäckwall then recruited his Dozer and Greenleaf bandmate Johan Rockner to join the band. And with the band’s lineup finalized, they wrote and recorded 2018’s full-length debut, Vallmo, an effort that saw the band pair crushing riffs and thunderous drumming with sophisticated melodies and thoughtful thematic concerns. The attention on the album, helped the band land a festival slot opening for the legendary Deep Purple.
Much like every other act across the globe, the Swedish quintet had plans to support 2019’s mini-album Frost with extensive touring across Europe — but the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled those plans for the next two years. The band used the unexpected spare time to compile a wealth of ideas amassed remotely and shared virtually, which would result in the material that would comprise their Karl Daniel Lidén-produced sophomore album Atlas.
Deriving its name from the Greek mythical character Atlas, who literally carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, the members of BESVÄRJELSEN boldly take a massive step forward with their sound and approach with the album’s material featuring elements of melodic doom, prog rock, punk, folk and classic rock. Along with that the band’s frontperson embraced the melodies and phrasing of the grunge and emo that she loved as a young person, as well as African and Middle Eastern music while retaining a bluesy undertone.
Atlas‘ latest single “The Cardinal Ride” is a breakneck yet melodic, arena rock friendly ripper centered around crunchy and enormous riffs, a scorching yet bluesy solo and thundering drums paired with Alazam’s powerhouse vocals and massive hooks. With “The Cardinal Ride,” the Swedish outfit seems poised to be both their homeland’s and the heavy scene’s next big thing — while crafting an empathetic portrayal of sin, uncertainty and ugliness.
“First time I heard the riff for this song I knew I wanted to go punk and messy with the melodies and lyrics,” Lea Amling Alazam says in press notes. “”I had been reading The Seven Deadly Sins by Karin Boye and the was book lying on the table as I was listening to the track.The first line that came to mind was ‘a rollercoaster of the seven deadly sins.’ Life is a fucked-up rollercoaster and you never know how the path will turn next, so I wanted to celebrate the ugly parts of life. We live in a glass house society, in which people want to portray themselves as if they have their shit together and be on the right side of life, while most of us are messed up, confused, horny bastards with no self control. It’s okay to be a fuck-up. It’s okay to run through life not knowing where the hell the road is going. But if you are the type of person, who always gets super drunk and cries at parties, maybe it’s time to go and see a shrink. Because chaos is fun, but taking mental health serious is even much cooler. See ya’ll in hell!”
“Well, ‘Cardinal Ride’ was the only song on the album that started as a jam and evolved from there”, BESVÄRJELSEN’s Erik Bäckwall adds. “It was faster at first and had the working name ‘Sendrag’, which means ‘Cramp’ due to the effect it had on my right leg. The track went through several iterations before Johan finally nailed the arrangement and Lea came up with the perfect vocal melody and lyrics for it.”
The accompanying, cinematic video for “The Cardinal Rule” is partially shot in the forests of Northern Sweden during golden hour paired with some sultry and decadent portrayals of sin.