In a year which has seen Swedish d-beat and crust vets like Victims and Martyrdöd return to the fray in formidable form, it’s perhaps fitting that the spotlight falls on Scandinavia’s emerging hardcore troupes too. Rich Holmes caught up with Snake Tongue, a five-piece who, after some bumps along the road, are now putting the pedal to the metal.
“We can only try to do our take on this type of music. It would be ridiculous to see ourselves as reinventors of d-beat or hardcore or anything at all. It’s all been done before.” Niklas Thorgren, guitarist with fast rising Swedish quintet Snake Tongue, gets straight to the point when assessing his band’s style of caustic HC. “We want to make music that we like and that makes us evolve.”
Yet the Linköping act have proved, over the course of two releases, that their homeland’s ability to churn out incendiary discore/crust acts hasn’t diminished, even if they don’t feel tied to that legacy.
Indeed, No Escape No Excuse, the four tracker released earlier this year, gave the international hardcore scene quite a jolt. Drawing on the violent intensity of Swedish d-beat legends such as Skitsystem, Disfear and Martyrdöd and marrying that with US hardcore and crust (the band cite Converge, Trap Them and His Hero Is Gone has key influences), No Escape No Excuse, is a bleak, apocalyptic record which leaves a lasting dent.
Lyrically, it is more personal and introspective compared to its predecessor, debut album Raptor’s Breath. And the EP is also noticeably rawer than Snake Tongue’s first full length (which was mixed by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, no less).
“Not that we were displeased with the sound on Raptor’s Breath, but it was a little on the polished side,” suggests six stringer Fredrik Petersson. “We wanted a meaner approach, so we decided to try and make the sound dirtier to enhance the aggressive side of the whole thing.”
Drummer Fredrik Dure adds: “We wanted to get back to where we came from in some way, though we all come from different musical backgrounds and vary in musical preferences. But we all like the idea of a dirty, raw and dark landscape for the new songs.
“There were many line-up changes since the release of Raptor’s Breath, and No Escape No Excuse feels like a restart or a rebuilding of the sound, but still keeps the creative spirit of the music in a more raw direction.”
The shifts in personnel have included Dure replacing Samuel Enocsson, who departed in 2016 and bassist Viktor Levin joining on bass, following the exit of founding member Martin Shukevich.
But this disruption hasn’t held Snake Tongue back. Far from it, according to Petersson…
“The thing is that these changes made the group more democratic and we’ve got closer on a personal level,” the guitarist reveals. “We’re a really solid gang now and the chemistry is just great. Good dynamics makes for great music!
“At the present time we have a really good gang and it’s always a blast. Everyone has their say and there is a really positive vibe. It’s the strongest line up we have ever had!”
That ‘gang’ will shortly be hitting the road for a slew of European dates. And an “even darker” follow-up to No Escape No Excuse is already in gestation.
“We are writing songs as we speak, and have a bunch in stock,” Petersson reveals. “Sound-wise I think you will see an evolvement again but it’s hard in advance to say exactly how. Musically you will definitely recognise that it’s Snake Tongue you are dealing with…but probably with some twists.”
Dure adds: “The EP is like a foundation for the new songs, but we try to challenge ourselves in the way we create. The main thing is to avoid repetition but still keep some kind of common thread.
“We also like to experiment with our influences that are not straight d-beat and throw them in the mix, you might hear some of it on Dystopian Slumber, for example. But you can still expect some elements from Raptor’s Breath in the new material.
“The overall ambition is to take Snake Tongue as far as we can, before we run out of inspiration.”
Thorgren signs off: “I sure hope we don’t run out of inspiration any time soon! But if and when we do, I hope we at least have the decency to quit.
“In the meantime our aim is to make the next Snake Tongue album into something memorable that doesn’t sound like anything you’ve heard before. Or if not, then like everything you have heard before, only better…!”
No Escape No Excuse is out now on The Sign Records.