Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DUNDER – Dunder (Mercury, 1978)

International relevance: ***
Swedish vocals

Today, five-piece Dunder is a little known outfit. Originally called Dunder Å Snus when they started out in 1976, they hailed from the small industrial community of Hallstahammar with a population of no more than 10,000. Although they might not be well known today, their sole album was well recieved by critics and the audience upon its release in 1978. Wrote Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's leading daily paper: ”A tight, massive and intense kind of rock music pours out of this band”, and another magazine called ”Dunder” a ”thundering debut album”, alluding to the group's name which means ”Thunder” in English. ”The album actually puts Dunder in the frontline of Swedish rock,” the writer continues. And true is they're far heavier than many a band in Sweden at the time. The native tongue lyrics are only vaguely political, which had leading progg mag Musikens Makt asking how Dunder had the nerve to dub their music progressive. It probably didn't help the band getting the orthodox progg movement grace that the album was released through major label Mercury Records. Also, the music is more straightforward than their peers', which had the band facing troubles getting gigs. ”There are almost no places for a progressive band like us, without a political message,” the band complained to an interviewer. Still, they managed to in neighbouring cities, and also scored a tour up north in Sweden. They also proved very successful in European radio show competition ”Europatoppen”, in which they got more votes than the well established and beloved Pugh Rogefeldt.

All material on the album is original, eleven well crafted tracks with prominent guitars and a tight, driving sound. Good vocals too, courtesy of Franco Mavica. ”Dunder” is a consistent effort, relying on the heaviness and thankfully keeping the ballads to a minimum. Closing track ”Medan tiden flyr” is an exception, laced with a string arrangement and a pseudo baroque melody line that I suspect would have fitted noted Swedish singer Tommy Körberg just nicely. ”Varje låt har sin egen tid” on the other hand sees the band at its most hard rocking, while ”Ge mig liv” adds a tasteful dash of gospel in the vocal harmonies. ”Dunder” is a group effort; no member gets a single songwriter's acknowledgement as all tracks are credited to the band collectively.

I haven't been able to confirm any live recordings by the band which is a pity since the album's style suggests they must have been a blazing stage act. They did however plan for a second album, but before those plans materialized, Dunder's break-up was announced by a local paper in June 1979. A single with English versions of album tracks "Strul" and "Stormvarning", retitled "Struggle" and "Dreams" respectively was about to be released but never got beyond the test pressing stage. They did a (one-off?) reunion in 1982 when they performed a local show, gracing the setlist with old Dunder chestnuts along with a couple of new songs. Unfortunately, these were never commited to vinyl.

Curiously enough, Dunder was offered the song "Skateboard", a translated version of The Carvells' "L.A. Run", but rejected it why it was given to disco pop band Magnum Bonum instead. Magnum Bonum scored a huge hit with the track, thereby annoying every Swede with a functioning brain for ages in 1978.

Drummer Carl Moser later joined heavy metal band Pegasus which later evolved into Lynx, as such releasing a full length album in 1985 along with a self-released 45 and a bunch of tracks on a various artists compilation.

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