JÄVLA – Demo 2014

reviewed by Nathan G. O'Brien | Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Javla demoThis five-song demo rager comes via Flophouse Records & Tapes, on a solid white cassette, with the label handwritten in black marker. There’s a J-card with artwork by Mikyla Pieterse photocopied on aqua blue paper. Song lyrics and liner notes are on a black & white photocopied foldout. All of the songs are recorded on one side of the tape, which leaves you plenty of room to make a sweet mix on the other side for that girl you’ve been crushing on since the ninth grade. They even did you a solid by not punching out the write-protect tabs.

Jävla is a four-piece teenage outfit from the suburbs of Washington, DC that started up with the grand, never-heard-of-before idea of paying tribute to Swedish bands new and old, such as Herätys, Totalitär, and Anti Cimex. And just to make sure you know we’re on some total juvenile type shit here, the band’s name means “Fuckin’” in Swedish. I know it sounds like I’m giving these guys a hard time, but I actually dig this. Like, a lot.

While the Swedish influence is apparent — particularly in the drums and the vocals — there’s also some real tough USHC vibes. I hear a lot of similarities to recent US bands like Hunting Party or Kontaminat. “Internal Combustion (Gut Rot)” — which at just over a minute and half is the longest song on the tape — has a really strong build that erupts into D-beaten madness before ending in a mosh-heavy breakdown. Despite the preconceived notions of Scandi-core, especially given the use of umlauts in the band name, it’s hard to ignore the USHC similarities. Whether or not this was band’s intended outcome, it’s the most obvious aspect of their sound.

Lately there seems to be a lot of bands and/or labels attempting to cash in on the demo fad by doing dual cassette/vinyl releases or even releasing cassette dubs of their already available seven-inches. But not here; the quality of the recording has demo tape written all over it. The vocals are distant, yet decipherable; the toms and the kicks are muted and thick, while the symbols crash surprisingly (and almost irritatingly) loud; the guitars are ripping but subdued; and the bass is just sort of dense and thud-y. The whole thing sounds raw and muffled but with an air of loudness; like a can of beer exploding under a blanket or your downstairs neighbors having a party while you’re trying to sleep.

(Flophouse Records & Tapes, 1326 Newton St. NE, Washington, DC 20017)

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