BADGE – If It Hurts It Must Be Good

Badge - If It HurtsWant some heavy blues from the deepest parts of the American south, where the smell of the swamps fills your nostrils and the alligators sleeps tight in the backyard? Thought so. Well, how about the same stuff from Stockholm, Sweden, then? Minus the swamps and the gators, that is. Because that is what this three-piece is more or less all about – stripped down, heavy blues, so uncommercial that you’ll be closer to a football match on the moon than hearing a mainstream hit single on the radio from the guys. The band was formed in 2013 by guitarist and lead singer Matti Norlin, a former blues-rock solo artist with four solo albums under his belt, ex Meshuggah bass player Gustaf Hielm and drummer Fredrik Haake (Sideburn and cousin of Meshuggah drummer Thomas Haake) and they released their debut album If I Could Love, I’d Love This the same year to rave reviews. After some touring and the odd gig here and there, things got really quiet around the band and I didn’t know whether they were still around or not. But a few months ago, the band had a showcase where they introduced new bass player Lennart Zethzon which meant that a new record was on its way. Of course, as a fan of their debut, I did look forward to this release – would they be able to top their last effort or not?

The first round made me a bit confused. It’s easy to hear that the guys sure knows their bits, but it just didn’t stick. The last one got me hooked right away, but this just passed me by unnoticed. Enter: headphones and some concentration. Boom! Bang! Opener “Reap What You Sow” is a fast, noisy, punky and aggressive number. It’s blues, yes, but it rocks like crazy and the sweat just pours out of my headphones. Same with “The Game”, it’s heavy, it rocks and it almost goes metal on us, but it is rooted right down with the delta blues – this is some good shit for sure. “Trapdoor” is a bluesy as it gets, but still very melodic and even catchy and the groove is infectious. Try to not move to this one if you can. Killer tune! “In The Eye Of The Storm” is a killer heavy blues tune, kind of Robert Johnson in a modern studio with a heavier edge. The melody is really distinct and sticks right away. “Flirting with Jesus won’t make your life complete…”, Norlin tells us. Amen to that (pun intended). “We Will See Light” is slow and heavy and it reminds me of Black Sabbath some, especially the riffs that goes all Tony Iommi on us. However, it differs a lot in sound even tough Sabbath were a blues band from the beginning. Great song. “Traitor” is brilliant. It has a big bluesy groove, but the verses brings some country vibes and the chorus hits right in the face. “Step Aside” is what I’d like to call blues punk. I fail to hear structure here and it’s a bit too noisy for comfort, but there are parts of the song that are very melodic and memorable and those saves the song. “Mapped Out Trail” is also a bit hard to grasp. It’s a heavy and slow number, very raw and stripped, a good tune, but not my favorite. Closing track “Yet To Come” is great. It’s a riff happy, aggressive ballbuster of a song with a thunderous groove and a striking melody – this kicks every butt for miles around.

Raw. Stripped. Authentic. Dynamic. Naked. In-your-face. Aggressive. Hard. Those words describes this album – in fact, they describe the band as such – pretty well. As for the songs themselves, I liked the last album a bit more, but this album is damn fine piece of work as well. This one feels a bit more punk and was harder to get into than the last one, but make no mistake, it grows on you. And – this is as real as it gets. If I didn’t already know that these guys are bunch of Swedes, I would never have guessed – they could easily go for some obscure little trio from the deep South. Does it hurt? You bet!

7/10

Other Badge reviews:
If I Could Love, I’d Love This

Tracklist:

1. Reap What You Sow
2. The Game
3. Trapdoor
4. In The Eye Of The Storm
5. We Will See Light
6. Traitor
7. Step Aside
8. Mapped Out Trail
9. Yet To Come

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