With Alfarmania’s staunchly analogue focus (evidenced by 4 vinyls and 21 cassettes released since 2004), ‘Skräcken’ breaks the mould as Alfarmania’s first digital CD release. Noting also that Alfarmania have been described as ‘post-mortem / power electronic depravity’, this release is comparatively subdued, leaning toward the post-mortem (aka death industrial) aspects of their sound, yet still maintaining their characteristic oppressive elements.
With regard to conceptual themes at play on ‘Skräcken’, the opening segment includes spoken vocals (Swedish?), which I assume relates to the source inspiration. From what can be established from the promo blurb (coupled with some additional investigations), ‘Skräcken’ explores a fictional future apocalyptic scenario, based on the current and factual global initiatives of George Soros’ Open Society Institute – such global initiatives which seek to implement drug harm minimisation programs, including specific campaigns to encourage drug addicts to use Methadone and Buprenorphine to combat heroin and other opioid drug withdrawals (…whilst still on the factual side, quite bizarrely the Open Society Institute partly promoted these initiatives were via a ludicrously titled comic book ‘Methadone Man and Buprenorphine Babe’). Noting that drug themes have played a central focus for Alfarmaina in the past, ‘Skräcken’ represents yet another interesting angle on this theme.
But what of the audio aspects? Apart from the cover indicating four tracks, in actuality these have been consolidated into a singular and continuous 30 minute composition. Again noting this is relatively subdued compared to other Alfarmania works, the agenda here seems to be to evoke a tense and slowly building atmospheres, in order to achieve an increasing sense of suffocation, claustrophobia and paranoia as the album progresses. With a general lack of the chaotic, and noisy junk metal clatter which Alfarmania are known, here multilayered queasy ascending / descending wavering analogue sounds and catatonic pounding pulse provide the platform for Alfarmania’s trademark vocals – distant, slightly distorted and barking in delivery, akin to the ravings and ranting of a lone lunatic from the depths of a cavernous warehouse. Whilst there are certainly ‘phases’ which this album moves through, it could be said to replicate some sort of drug haze, where the segments shift so slowly that you don’t actually notice the change has occurred. Yet the concluding album fragment is individually notable, more so due to its differing sparse experimental sound, which offers momentary respite from the claustrophobia which has preceded it.
As with all Autarkeia releases, the package is top notch – pressed on heavy weight cardboard stock for the six panel digi-pack, completed with excellent full colour scrap collage artwork courtesy of Kristian Olsson aka Alfarmania.