"Crazy Swedes" (Handsome Spider; 2021)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Let's get this out of the way right here at the top of this review: Crazy Swedes is not hard rock, heavy metal or punk. Based on the album cover—which features the band dressed as they might have appeared in John Carpenter's "The Thing," with glowing eyes like the "I Love it Loud" video from Kiss—you might be led to think, in fact, it was some heavier stuff. But such is not the case. For the most part, this self-titled album probably might fit better in the instrumental jazz category, or the light progressive rock genre.

But let's get this out of the way, too: That really doesn't matter. The fact is that "Crazy Swedes" is an impressive album, a collection of (for the most part) instrumental tracks that hold your attention completely, sometimes for the musicianship alone, and sometimes for the atmosphere the track creates.

I was most impressed by the guitar work here, with its towering solos and rollicking riffs, but the musicians in this band work extremely well together, delivering tracks that reminded me of Derek Sherinian, Pink Floyd (more on that later) and Tangerine Dream.

Yes, a lot of tracks are slower and lean toward light jazz rather than progressive rock but they still hold your interest, still make you feel. There wasn't a track on the album that I thought I might skip next time.

I'm reviewing the deluxe edition here, by the way, which contains three bonus tracks, one a live cover of the aforementioned Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," complete with vocals (the only track on the album to contain a human voice). It's a pretty straight-forward cover but that's such a great song that it works just fine. The remaining bonus tracks are live versions of "Stratus" and "Indigo Chrome."

If, like me, you're one of those people who enjoys an instrumental album just to focus on the musicianship and the style, then I heartily recommend the Crazy Swedes' self-titled album. Try to find the Deluxe Edition, if you can. It's worth it for the Pink Floyd cover alone). Whichever version you decide on, open it up, sit back and let the music flow over you. You'll be glad you did.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. No a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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