Recorded and mixed in Q8 Regular Matrix 4 Channel Stereo at Europa Film
Studios 1 & 3 Stockholm, Sweden may-july 1974.
Engineer: Björn Almstedt
Bonustracks 7 & 8 recorded at Samskolan, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden by Björn Carlsson & Dag Lundquist dec 1972.
Bonustrack 9 recorded live at the Concert Hall, Kristiansstad, Sweden feb. 1975.
Original cover artwork by Johan Gullberg.
Cover design by Ossie and Johan Gullberg.
Photos recording studio: Jan-Åke Persson
Remastered by Claes Persson & Dag Lundquist at CRP Recording, Stockholm, Sweden june 2004.
Original album produced by Adrian Moar.
I had been meaning to check out this album for quite a while due to the excellent reputation it has. I’m always reading great things about this group from several sites on the Internet. The name Trettioåriga Kriget translates to “The Thirty Years War” and true to that title, the band is amazingly still going strong to this day. I caught their performance at Progday X last year and I must say they put on an incredible show. The group is basically unchanged since this self-titled release in 1974; they may have put on a few pounds and lost a few hairs but they’ve given up none of their trademark aggressive sound.
The main thing that distinguishes Kriget from most of the other progressive rock bands of the day is the lack of keyboards or other instruments like flute or violin. What we have is basically guitars, bass and drums, but even with that configuration the band just exudes complexity and style that never gets tiresome. The vocals (sung in Swedish) take a little getting used to but when you do, the singing/talking style remains very unique and quite enjoyable.
Instrumentally, the defining aspect of this band is bassist Stefan Fredin who plays as if his bass were a lead instrument. Similar in many respects to greats like Chris Squire and John Wetton, Stefan employs effects like distortion and wah-wah for added emphasis and isn’t afraid to step up front of the band for a lead run or even a solo from time to time. Not to take anything away from the other members of the band, who are indeed excellent musicians as well, but it’s the bass that stands out and what I’m usually listening for.
Although I mentioned earlier that there are no keyboards, upon closer listening I’m hearing a few keyboard parts in a couple tunes. Nothing that spectacular, just sort of atmospheric mellotron or synth bits here and there. My guess is these parts were performed by someone in the band that didn’t get credited for it. There is a nice piano part on the bonus track “Under the Pendent Roof” that is credited to Dag Krolund.
The reissue of this CD was released last year on the Mellotronen label and what a fantastic job they did. The excellent digi-pack disc contains the gorgeous design reproduction of the original LP, a very informative essay by Olle Thörnvall detailing the events surrounding this recording and three seemingly indispensable bonus tracks that for once enhance the original album rather than draw attention from it.
If you’re a fan of the classic progressive rock of the Seventies, you really need to investigate this one and the subsequent release Krigssång (also recently reissued by Mellotronen). It may have been more than thirty years since Trettioåriga Kriget burst onto the scene, but this is one war that doesn’t need to end anytime soon.
Swedish proggers Trettioåriga Kriget celebrated their thirtieth anniversary with a return to active duty following a long hiatus: a new studio album in Elden Av År, an appearance at ProgDay 2004, and beautiful digipak reissues of the first four albums thanks to Mellotronen. This eponymous debut from '74 has much more in line with the post-Yardbirds British hard rock scene than progressive rock, to be frank. Kriget had no full-time keyboardist; guest pianist Dag Kronlund plays on "Under The Pendent Roof," but it's a bonus track, not on the original vinyl, while uncredited Mellotron bits and other keyboard knick-knacks are audible. Longer-than-average songs? Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin recorded plenty of 'em. Nods to many bands, from Purple to Zeppelin to Uriah Heep to Queen and even Trapeze can be heard all over the place. Sure, the arrangements are a little more flowery, a little more bombastic, but frontman Robert Zima's vocal style is clearly modeled on the singers of those bands; perhaps the combination he comes closest to is a Gillan~Byron~Plant hybrid, with a dash of Hughes, though not as compelling. The falsetto acrobatics Zima routinely resorts to are less than laudable. Christer Åkerberg's guitar style falls squarely in the Blackmore, Page and May camps, but it is Stefan Fredin's aggressive and melodic yet nonflamboyant bass-playing that is even more striking. In fact, the opening of "Fjärilsattityder" is astonishingly similar to Rush track circa 2112…but Rush had, at best, only recorded their debut when TK's own was already out! Fredin is clearly an unsung hero of rock bass. The opening minute of "Mina Löjen" rings out similarly before settling into the main scheme which—equally eye-brow raising—often sounds like more of a template for "stoner rock" than Blacks Sabbath and Flag do. All lyrics are penned by one Olle Thörnvall, transmuted into sonic colors by Zima—not in English, naturally, though two of the bonus tracks—which, while remastered, still sound a little rough—are in English, and hence, are the only two for which printed lyrics were not supplied. Synopsis: a worthwhile reissue of a debut by a young band, composed of very talented players—and for whom the best was yet to come.
This is my first encounter with the debut album "Trettioåriga Kriget "and it proved to be an experience that I would be glad to repeat. Whilst the sound is (understandably) a little dated, the mix of early guitar-based prog and hard rock - fusing elements of Uriah Heep (the histrionic vocals), Wishbone Ash, a splash or two of mellotron, a hint of Yes and some jazzy complexity – retains considerable power and should still appeal to fans of the era. In fact, T K were always a bit ahead of their time, and there is some foreshadowing of the complex hard rock/prog eschewed by, say, Rush (circa 2112) to be discerned (though it’s doubtful that there was a direct influence). Much more likely is the supposition that modern Swedish bands like Landberk and Anglagard took considerable inspiration from these recordings.
With most tracks falling in the 5-8 minute bracket, there is ample time for thematic variation and most of the tracks are bursting with tricky twists and turns, rhythmic shifts and plenty of meaty riffs, making it hard to pick out highlights, though the mellotron infused Mina Lojen and the storming opener Kaledoniska Orogenesen are fine examples of what’s on offer.
For those who prefer English vocals, the first two bonus cuts should satisfy. Under The Pendant Roof is an early version of what became Ur Djupen but is presented here in a vastly different, and much longer form. I’ve Got No Time is a fairly simple acoustic ballad but enjoyable for all that. The final track is a storming live version of an early track (included on the Glorious War CD as Amassilations) which, considering its vintage, sounds pretty darn good.