overground scene

Whatever happened to Pelle and Rasmus?

Classic Swedish death metal is readily associated with bands like Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed, Grave and maybe At The Gates. All these bands defined the genre in their own special way. Comecon is one of the bands that followed shortly after the big bang of Swedish death metal in the late 1980s – early 1990s but never became popular and, hence, its influence can by no means be considered definitive of the genre. Given the lack of a (real person) drummer and of live gigs it is not difficult to imagine why this band never became popular. Additionally, it cannot be denied that Comecon’s music was neither as brutal nor as technically proficient as the music of its contemporaries, and both brutality and technical proficiency have always been crucial parameters upon which death metal bands have been judged.Comecon_logo

However, I have always considered Comecon a unique and brilliant band. The masterminds behind the band were Rasmus Ekman (Guitar/Bass) and Pelle Ström (Guitar/Bass). Both played hardcore and thrash in various Swedish bands, including Agony, Omnitron and The Krixhjalters, before forming Comecon in 1989 (source: Encyclopedia Metallum). In Comecon, they enmeshed thrash and hardcore elements, such as the Ramones drum beat, D-beat and thrash riffing, with death metal elements, such as Blast-beats and fast tremolo picking riffs. As such, music-wise, Comecon were fast, intense and some of the songs had frequent breaks and rhythmic changes, just like most of death metal bands of the time. It is true that they also had more straightforward songs, created in line with the hardcore/punk compositional canon (for example, The dog days). What really set Comecon apart from their peers is not as much the style of music as the explicitly ideological lyrics, another element they shared with thrash and hardcore. Comecon were critical of capitalism and its European manifestation in the form of the EU, they were eager for resistance, anti-fascist, and, in the end, pessimistic about the future of humanity. However, as opposed to thrash and hardcore bands’ often childish and inconsistent revolutionary rhetoric, Comecon offered poetry that included serious and sophisticated socio-political critique.


From left to right: Petrov, Ekman, Ström and Green (the fake drummer). Note Ekman’s trademark attire and Petrov’s “I eat christians” t-shirt!

On each of their albums they recruited a different vocalist, L.G. Petrov (of Entombed fame) on the first one, Martin Van Drunen (Asphyx and Pestilence) on the second and Marc Grewe (Morgoth) on the final one. All three of them gave with Comecon some of the best performances of their careers; especially, Grewe and Van Drunen blow my mind! The style of the music also changed from album to album. Some of the more punk/hardcore elements of the first album (Megatrends in brutality – 1992) gave way to more death metal elements and emotion on the second one (Converging conspiracies – 1993). On the third album (Fable frolic – 1995) they shed lots of their speed in favour of a more dissonant, almost industrial sound.

In their life-span as a band, Rasmus and Pelle composed music that was at times heartfelt and compelling (listen to the magnificent Imploder, The whole world and Worms), at other times intense and devastating (Icons of urine, Wash away the filth, Slope, Bleed/Burn) and at other times dark, pessimistic and suffocating (Canvas of history). Their lyrics provided food for thought during my adolescence and influenced me artistically. Unfortunately, Comecon broke up, so the world never experienced the next incarnation of this great band. Pelle’s and Rasmus’ whereabouts after the demise of Comecon are unknown to me.

“Who opened the door for the democrator?

And how come he let in the market conquistadors?

Why is he acting as if he has something to hide?

The privilege of the stupid is to be taken for a ride.” (excerpt from Democrator)

“How many poor do we need to prosper?

How much starvation to make GNP rise?

Why are we sliding into hell when they’re pointing at heaven?

Let Europe recollect what must be done, with bourgeois lies.” (excerpt from Community)

“All over the world,

the carcasses of cultures drowned in civilisation.

Crawl over the world,

the carcasses of our cheap seductive virulent commodification.” (excerpt from Aerie)


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

I just found this interview with Rasmus, it looks recent but there’s no date on it. Anyway, it answers some of the questions I had: http://nihilistic.voila.net/Interviews/comecon.htm

Comment by lentil81

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: