The Music Cartel, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


With this job, I listen to anywhere from 10 to 20 albums a week, on average. With such a busy schedule of listening to discs, one would think that it's rare for me to be surprised by a new album. Generally, this is true, but there are those moments when I feel I'm listening to something totally unique and different, that it makes me snap to attention.

The latest band to do that to me was Clawfinger, a Swedish outfit who could be hard rock's answer to Public Enemy. Whatever preconceived notion you may have about this band, you may as well drop them at the drawer of the CD player, 'cause their self-titled album takes you on a trip that even the Autobahn can't match.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band, led by vocalist Zak Tell, is very much a hard rock outfit, but the lyrics are often delivered in a format that emulates, but doesn't copy, rap music. It's an interesting take on the scene, and is one that is remarkably fresh-sounding. Simply put, Clawfinger is like nothing you've ever heard.

From the opening moments of "Two Sides," I found myself raising my head and asking, "What the hell was that?!?" In this case, such a revelation is an excellent thing, and Clawfinger make the most of their time in the CD changer. Songs like "Not Even You" and "Everybody Knows" are certain to blow away the listener.

What is interesting is that the powerful music on Clawfinger hides some occasionally strong lyrical content. Again, we need only look as far as the opening track "Two Sides": "There's nothing a god can give to me that I can't give to myself / I put my beliefs in the things I believe and a god can take care of himself." If you take the time to read the lyric sheet, you might be surprised at some of the things that Tell has to say, but in a way, I think that he needs to say them, whether or not the listener agrees with them.

Clawfinger is supposed to have one track which, when played in your computer's CD-ROM, allows you to mix it in whatever way you choose. I have not been able to find that song on my copy of the disc, so I can't tell you if this is a good or bad feature. Whatever the case, it is intriguing.

So where does Clawfinger fit into your album collection? Fact is, there's not a clear-cut line, though the music does border on the hard rock side enough times. What the listener will have to do with this disc is to keep an open mind, and not try to pigeonhole Clawfinger into any one category as the disc progresses. If you do, be prepared to have your mind changed within a few tracks.

Clawfinger is an album that took its sweet time coming over to this side of the world, but it is a welcome addition to American music collections.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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 The Music Cartel, and is used for informational purposes only.