Sudakistan – Swedish Cobra (Album Review)

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Sudakistan are, in the grand scheme of things, a fairly young band. Arriving on the psychedelic rock scene with a show of furious energy and boundless talent, debut album Caballo Negro was released in 2015 to praise from fans and critics alike, and found themselves a dedicated fan base from all over the world. Their live performances are wild and powerful, and the band manages to turn the heads of everyone who stumbles across them. Now, three years on, the five-piece are back with their follow up album Swedish Cobra.

While the band describe themselves as Swedish, only one member – guitarist Arvid Sjöö – is born-and-bred Swedish. The other four-fifths of Sudakistan hail from South America, and they bring that vibe to the music. It’s an influence that’s clear from the very first moment you listen to Swedish Cobra, with the tracks having Latino undertones that somehow – unexpectedly ­–­ sets off the heaviness of harsh guitars and pounding drums.

Opening track ‘Blanco’ starts the album off nicely, with a quiet, somewhat delicate intro that explodes into a loud mess of guitars and drums, and introduces us to chant-styled vocals that wouldn’t be out of place in an arena. With ‘Whiplash’, we’re treated to a heavy, bass-centred song that’s packed full of riffs and an echoing, ethereal hook that compliments the pounding rhythm of the song perfectly.

The album’s title track is a short one at only 1 minute and 25 seconds, but there is more than you could imagine packed into it. It’s fast-paced and furious, with ear-splitting electric guitar and thumping drums leading to a jaunty, quick riff, and in the end, the song will leave you wanting more.

Songs like ‘Last Love Supreme’ and ‘Two Steps Back’ show a softer side to Sudakistan. ‘Last Love Supreme’ features gentle acoustic strumming that fits the bill of a love song perfectly, while ‘Two Steps Back’ is a more upbeat track, giving us tender vocals and catchy lyrics. Both songs wouldn’t be out of place on a soundtrack dedicating to remembering those unforgettable sunny afternoons of your adolescent years.

‘Pachanga Racha’ delves deeper into the band’s South American roots, showcasing a funky drum rhythm and spoken lyrics. It’s easy to imagine the song being used as a backing track for a tango dance – that is, until the electric guitar screeches into play halfway through the song, proving that Sudakistan are more than meets the eye.

The album closes with ‘Emma’, a track that is full to the brim with hopefulness and a little bit of joy. The riffs are upbeat and memorable, providing a tune that is going to be stuck in your head for days. Lyrically, it’s not so complex: front-man Michell Serrano simply chants the word Emma on and off for four minutes, but it makes the song all that more haunting.

It’s the perfect song to end on, and ties the whole record together in one small package. That package is a little bit of psychedelic rock, a little bit of traditional Latin, a little bit of punk, and a whole load of talent. In theory, it shouldn’t work, and written down, all those different elements of the music seem too much – especially when infused into one big melting pot – but when listening to the album, you can’t help but feel a little thrilled by the music.

It’s like finding a secret that nobody else knows, and judging by the quality and talent that has been poured into Swedish Cobra, it won’t stay that way for long. Keep your eyes peeled, because you’re going to be seeing a lot more of Sudakistan.

Swedish Cobra is out on September 7th via PNKSLM Recordings.