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Sweden's Snap, Crackle and Pop

PRIMEsth - Underneath The Surface
(Giant Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 24, 2001


By Holiday Girod

Sweden may be known for their meatballs and porno flicks, but a brash, young quartet hailing from Stockholm known as PRIMEsth may just help to put melodic metal on the Scandinavian map, as well.
On their debut album Underneath The Surface singer / guitarist Noa, along with guitarist Martin, bassist Jspr (pronounced Jesper) and drummer Kaz have chiseled out an enduring collection of powerful songs that spit and crunch, while adding the finesse of catchy pop melodies and rich harmonies to evenly temper their angst.
While the foursome's musical formula may not fit into the dance music and Euro-rap that's in vogue in their motherland, it seems to suit them just fine. As Noa recently explained, "Our goal was to make it to the 'otherside,' meaning America. Sweden has never been known for rock 'n' roll. We always felt we belonged in the States, and our music sounds more American than Swedish."
From the opening strains of the title track, where Noa's choke-hold vocals pull you dangerously closer towards the metal fray, to the dark, foreboding chord progressions of "I Don't Envy You," it's apparent that they're trying to position themselves into the latter '90s U.S. alt-rock scene. (Their blatant, yet welcome revisiting of Nirvana on the punk / metal anthem "24 Song" is proof of that.) With thick slabs of guitar and a heart-jumping drum beat, the angst continues into "From The Inside," but as the chorus makes it clear, this is more than just mere mindless metal. These are real songs here, by-gum. The further Underneath The Surface unfolds, the more it becomes apparent that these guys are more than meets the ear. Numbers such as "In My Head," "Believe" and "I'm Stupid (Don't Worry About Me") all feature Martin's wonderful, shimmering guitar tones along with Jspr and Kaz' driving rhythms, but even more important, these songs are actually built around melodic structure, giving well-grounded pop sensibilities to their coveted Stateside thunder.
With such a pleasing mix of snap, crackle and pop, PRIMEsth makes digging into Underneath The Surface a real treat.

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