Few bands can chalk up their signature musical style to the contrasts between their roots and their adopted hometown, but Sudakistan are one of them. The Stockholm five-piece announced their arrival onto the punk scene proper in furious fashion with their incendiary debut record, Caballo Negro, in 2015; unsurprisingly for such an ambitious and irresistibly energetic album, it met with rave reviews across the board. What made it stand out from the crowd, though, was its interpolation of the band’s backgrounds.
Of Sudakistan’s five members, only guitarist Arvid Sjöö is Swedish born-and-bred. The other four - frontman Michell Serrano, bassist Maikel Gonzalez, percussionist Carlos Amigo and drummer Juan Jose Espindola - all hail from South America and latin musical influences are a key part of their sound, particularly in terms of rhythm and groove; lay guitars and vocals that recall the likes of Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above over the top of that and you have a potent clash of styles that elevates Sudakistan above their peers. Ultimately, though, their real calling card is their chaotic live shows, one of which set the ball rolling on this second LP, Swedish Cobra. The album’s producer, Daniel Bengtson, was in the crowd when the band opened for Ty Segall in Stockholm and was excited about the prospect of capturing their live prowess on record. He swiftly offered them the use of his Studio Rymden studio, as well as his services behind the production desk.
“The studio was big enough that we could record live, all five of us in the same room, and not do too many takes,” explains Serrano. “You can hear that on the album. It’s quite raw, and very intense.” Swedish Cobra is the most blistering effort to date from Sudakistan, but also the most experimental. The roles that the individual members had fallen into over the painstaking process of making Caballo Negro - and the extensive touring that followed - went out of the window for Swedish Cobra, with each person’s positions becoming much more fluid, and the instrumental palette more broad. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” says Serrano. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”
This is the band’s most personal set of songs so far, and although the lyrics deal with a wide range of topics that run the gamut from partying to introspection, it’s not an outwardly political album; instead, it deals with the day-to-day lives of the five-piece, all of whom chipped in with lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this,” says Gonzalez. “Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things - like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden - it’s relatable in any other country, I think.”
The beauty of Swedish Cobra - and of Sudakistan’s music in general - is that you can take what you want from it; you can see it as a stirring celebration of blending sounds from around the world, and you can find something profound in the messages that the songs are relaying. Most of all, though, you can revel in their exhilarating live energy, which they recreate faultlessly on Swedish Cobra; that, alone, should mark it out as one of the year’s most scintillating punk releases.