I have often jokingly said that, when it comes to heavy metal and rock music, there is an area of the world that seems to punch above it’s weight and provide the metal community with an extraordinary amount of high quality music. Indeed, every time I mention it, my family roll their eyes, a non-verbal ‘yes, I know, you mention this all the time’. But actually, it is not a joke, far from it in fact.
I’m not talking about the USA or even the UK, even though both have undeniable importance within the scene as a whole. I’m not even referring to South America or continental Europe, encompassing the likes of Germany, Italy and France. Again, there is much to be said about these countries and their contribution to the metal cause but that’s not the focus of this post.
I am, of course, referring to Scandinavia.
Depending on what literature you read, the term Scandinavia can mean many things. It is also a term that confusingly and inaccurately seems to be used interchangeably with the term ‘Nordic countries’. However, to be clear (if not factually correct), for the purposes of this blog, when I refer to Scandinavia, I am talking about Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.
Just take a moment and think about all those bands that you have in your collection that hail from one of these countries. And then, contemplate the fact that combined, the population of these four countries stands at around 25.5 million. To put this into context, this is less than half the population of the UK alone and accounts for approximately 0.36% of the world’s population.
In terms of inhabitants then, Scandinavia is tiny. However, in terms of music of a heavy nature, these four countries are gargantuan, giants of the scene. From my experience, they’re all lovely people too!
Speaking personally now for a moment, I honestly cannot think of another region that has had such a profound effect upon me from a musical perspective. To be honest, I haven’t counted, but I suspect that nearly half of the bands and artists in my collection hail from Scandinavia. Two of my top 5 bands of all time are Scandinavian and so too are three of my Top 5 albums of all time, with several others narrowly missing out.
Then you have to take a wider look at the Scandinavian impact. Had it not been for Sweden, would melodic death metal have been created? The answer is yes, probably. However, it might have sounded nothing like it does today having been guided by the influence of a handful of bands that created the ‘Gothenburg Sound’ in the early-to-mid 90s. Then there’s the whole black metal genre which would, undoubtedly look a lot different if it was not for the influence of a whole host of Norwegian bands. And whilst Finland and Denmark may not be so synonymous with a particular single genre or movement, their contributions have been just as valuable in a number of ways.
Therefore, I thought it was high time to take a moment and look in a bit more detail about these special countries and the not-inconsiderable impact they have had on the heavy music world over the years. Over the course of the following few posts then, I intend to look at these four countries separately, explaining from a very personal perspective why I love the music from this region so dearly. In so doing, I intend to place an emphasis on those bands that have had the greatest impact upon me and, importantly, I will try to communicate why.
I hope you’ll join me and enjoy reading what I come up with!