Thanks to Swedish Death Metal (by Daniel Ekeroth--HIGHLY recommended for the wealth of information, just FYI), which loosely prefaces the history of Swedish death metal with relevant thrash bands, I'm digging into a few obscure acts. But let's be realistic here: Sweden's metal scene didn't effectively take off until the early nineties. Thrash metal groups like Hatred were scattered here and there--typically influenced by American and other European bands--but never in great quantity. On behalf of reports from youngsters of the period, it was not "cool" to be a metalhead in Sweden. A shame really. All that talent lost.
Luckily for us, we have remnants of these highly-creative bands in the form of numerous demos and EPs. I haven't come close to scratching the surface of Sweden's mini-thrash scene, but I've given Damien and Mefisto's discographies a run through or two, as well as one of Hatred's demos. First listens of all three leave me impressed because, despite what elitists will say, they're entirely comparable to what was going on in the United States, Germany, and other European countries.
The first, an orthodox thrash band called Damien, formed in 1982, releasing four demos and one EP over the course of six years before breaking up. Theoretically, their last release, Requiem for the Dead, should have gotten the band worldwide exposure or, at the very least, something outside of Sweden. But as far as I can tell, that didn't happen and led to their demise in '88. I'm assuming the band didn't have a dedicated budget for recording, but Reqiuem for the Dead sounds positively pro when placed with their demos--heavy, thick slabs of guitar and nice, balanced production values. It's surprising given the circumstances, but all the more intriguing when looking into this time period's mysterious releases.
1986 - Onslaught without Mercy (Demo)
1986 - Hammer of the Gods (Demo)
1987 - Chapter One (Demo)
1988 - Chapter II (Demo)
1988 - Requiem for the Dead (EP)
The next, Hatred, seem pretty dang generic, if only because of their name (Metal Archives has about 20 bands named Hatred listed. WOW!). In reality, their music is actually quite special, a cornerstone in Sweden's musical development. Ekeroth hails the act's second demo, Welcome to Reality, as one of the best thrash releases during Sweden's identity crisis, and while I can't back him yet due to my limited exposure to these obscure bands, I'm inclined to agree because it is as enjoyable as any quality eighties thrash record. All four tracks clock in at over five minutes--one nearly at seven--so this isn't the normal thrasher-basher and instead a collection of carefully-composed songs. At this point it's still sinking in, but definitely worth a listen because of its historical significance. Might be fun to one-up your friends with your musical obscurity, too.
1987 - Winds of Doom (Demo)
1989 - Welcome to Reality (Demo)
1989 - Hatred (Demo)
1990 - The Forthcoming Fall (Demo)
I'll take a shot in the dark with this one. According to my research, Mefisto was singlehandedly the most important extreme Swedish metal band because they not only predated the scene, but inspired countless bands that followed. Their music generally borders thrash metal, with short stints of speed metal, but some call it an early variation of black metal, something I'm not exactly sure I'm onboard with. Both demos are comparable to very early Sodom--a staple in influencing black metal--so I see the comparison, although I'm adamant on my stance. Whatever the case may be, each release absolutely kicks and deserve a place in your collection.
1986 - Megalomania (Demo)
1986 - The Puzzle (Demo)
So, there you have it: three excellent and unknown bands from Sweden's small thrash movement. I'll let you get to discovering new treasures, but as you listen, acknowledge that you're keeping these bands alive in an age when they would otherwise be forgotten, swept into the depths of time.