Rifforia: A Family Connection in Swedish Heavy Metal

There’s a family connection lurking deep within Swedes Rifforia, for if you dig through the information about the band on the internet, you discover that singer Nils Patrik Johansson is the father of Rifforia’s drummer, Fredrik. Formed from Tuck In Hell, a band that had been around for some time, featured Fredrik and Marcus Bengts (guitars, bass) and had issued an album called Thrashing, Nils had been singing with Civil War, who had invited guitarist Petrus Granar to join them. It’s all resulted in a name change to the frankly dreadful Rifforia and the delivery of their first album, Axeorcism.

Rifforia – Axeorcism (Metalville Records)

Release Date: 23 February 2024

Words: Paul Hutchings

So, skip past the name, smile at the rather cliched album title and gasp at the album cover. Underneath, you get ten tracks that are solid Heavy Metal from start to finish. Songs with titles such as The Devil’s Sperm, Welcome To Hell and Evilized leave little to the imagination. And probably raise a chuckle or two, to be fair.

First impact comes with the crushing riffs of A Game That You Don’t Understand. It’s a muscular showing, thick, heavy driving riffs propelling the song forward. It’s the vocals of Johansson which are going to be the main issue.

High-pitched in the extreme, there’s an element of Ripper Owens, a faint hint of Mats Levén, and a little of Ronnie Romero in the mix. Whether you can tolerate it for the whole release is something you’ll have to decide.

Rifforia to release Axeorcism (Metalville Records). Out: 24 February 2024
Rifforia to release Axeorcism (Metalville Records). Out: 24 February 2024

You can taste the Thrash heritage throughout on the powerful Sea Of Pain and Well Of Life. The musicianship is rock solid, and one suggests that there may be more than one festival in Germany where Rifforia would get huge reactions. There’s a real retro crunch to the band’s sound, an echo of a time when Heavy Metal had few genres to divide it.

Rifforia stick to a reasonably solid formula, which is repeated throughout. Built To Destroy will get the heads banging, although by the time you get to the frankly ludicrously titled The Devil’s Sperm, the repetitive format may be wearing a little thin.

Thankfully, CC Cowboys does at least vary things a little, with a slower, atmospheric tempo and Swedish lyrics interspersed with English.

With only two songs pushing past the four-minute mark, there isn’t much in the way of respite. The biggest problem, though, is that despite the solid craft on display, the songs all merge into one. There’s very little difference between Evilized and the ferocious opener. And even at track nine, I’m still struggling a little with the vocals.

There is, however, some frankly phenomenal playing littered throughout the album. The lead work is particularly frenetic and vicious, slashing through the air with razor-sharp intensity. In fact, it’s on Welcome To Hell where the first real recollections kick in. Yep, this was the first track that lingered in the memory banks for over a minute.

Rifforia finish off with the explosive Dead Row Child. It’s a bruising thrasher of a track and one that will no doubt have circle pits racing.

Overall, I’m a little on the fence about this release. In some parts, the sheer velocity of the songs is appealing, the power of the riffs intense, and the songs tick my need for old school Heavy Metal.

But I struggled with the vocals, despite several plays. That may be more about me, so if you think that you can cope with a higher pitch than you may be used to, then give Rifforia a go. But that cover. Oh dear!

Sleeve Notes

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