Aguirre Records / Belgium / 2022
It's been a true pleasure but also a rather chaotic experience to follow the progress of Blod from a close distance since the beginning. I have fond memories of receiving the odd cassettes from the early days, like the severely fucked up Unga Röster (later issued as an LP on Förlag För Fri Musik) and the awfully mesmerising Prat Om Depression recording. Returning to Leendet Från Helvetet for the first time for long a while, it's quite evident that the album marked a new phase in the troubled Blod universe. There's few traces left of the found tapes/audial voyeurism and brutish stop/rec editing that made up the first few releases, instead we are served with what is pretty much a proper album in a, sort of, traditional sense.
The record opens with a sole beat from a hand drum soon accompanied by a beautiful and very Blod-ish subtle melody from a glockenspiel but it only takes a few minutes before Gustaf's past as a free jazz aficionado is noticeable with the rather rough saxophone burst of 'Natten'. It's not until the title track that things kicks off for real though, most likely the first example of the sound and, maybe more so, very special feeling that I would say most people associate Blod with nowadays. To me, it's the sound of growing up in Sweden in the 80's; having two channels on the TV, eating brown food, rainy summers, taping commercial stuff on the radio, playing D&D in a purple tent in the garden. Memories of that certain bright light that can occur during the Scandinavian summers, those warm days when the skies are foggy. Long windswept grass and a very peculiar feeling of utter boredom. Arguably, Blod has never sounded more Blod than on this track, this is the very essence of the man's work right here. The progamm continues on side B with the solemn piano piece 'Lust', another saxophone rager and then the flipside's centrepiece 'Tro, Hopp & Kärlek' which pretty much mirrors the title track in it's larger-than-life scope and pure beauty.
A couple of years has passed since it's initial release back in 2017 and I think it's safe to say that Leendet Från Helvetet is by far the most overlooked album in the Blod discography (well, if you can say that about a record that was only pressed in a mere 100 copies to begin with!). The blueprint to what would later evolve into the bombastic Knuta Nävar, the intimate Tusen Bitar, the highly confusing medieval masterpiece Missväxt, not to mention all the self-released cassettes and CD-rs (Matthias Andersson).