Horror Wrestling

Drain S.T.H.

Mercury Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For Swedish bands, there is life after Abba. Drain S.T.H. is proof.

This four-piece female quartet from Stockholm take on the standard image of hard rock and challenge it to conform to their sound and style. The end result, Horror Wrestling, could be one of the most exciting releases this year.

The band (vocalist Maria Sjöhölm, guitarist Flavia Canel, bassist Anna Kjellberg and drummer Martina Axén) hardly sounds like an all-female band, something that works to Drain S.T.H.'s benefit. Any prejudices some people might have to such a lineup disappear with the opening notes of "Crack The Liar's Smile" (acoustic guitar leading into a sonic attack). Canel's guitar style is incredibly solid, and though she chooses to make her solos an intregal part of the songs, I found myself wishing she would cut loose at some point.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The treasure on Horror Wrestling is "Serve The Shame," a song that demonstrates the magnificent vocal harmonies this band has. The song is instantly addictive, crossing several musical genre boundaries to reach as many listeners as possible. The acoustic version tacked onto the end of the album is just as good, powered again by the vocal harmonies. Other songs like "Someone," "Crucified" and "Mind Over Body" continue the strong case for Drain S.T.H.

Drain S.T.H. even dares to challenge the listener by introducing different rhythm patterns that will catch you off-guard if you're not careful. It takes a little time to get into cuts like "Smile" that utilize these, but it's well worth the effort.

The second side of Horror Wrestling takes a little more effort to get through, but is a journey worth taking nonetheless. In fact, the only mistake the band makes at all is their stuck-in-first-gear cover of Motorhead's "Ace Of Spades". Sorry, ladies, but this is a song that was meant to blaze through with no musical brakes. It's an admirable effort, but pales in comparison to the real thing.

Although the singing is very clear on Horror Wrestling, there are times when I wish that Sjöhölm's vocals had been brought a little more to the front of the mix. Her voice is clear and powerful, and I wish I had been able to hang onto every word she sang.

Horror Wrestling is a powerful first effort from a band whose word-of-mouth following in this country has spread thanks to numerous tours (including a stint on the OZZfest last year). If Horror Wrestling is any indication of this band's true power, then they could find themselves as superstars in America in no time flat.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.