After the release of the brilliant "Light Shines Black" album it got very, very calm around Swedish Doomers LEFT HAND SOLUTION. I had already feared for their existence, if they had not had a gig at the 2002 edition of Abtsgmünd's "Summerbreeze Festival", which I could see. After that the same almost deathlike silence ensued and I had feared again that the band might have split up. But once you have these dark thoughts, you suddenly get a CD, fittingly by LEFT HAND SOLUTION, titled "Shadowdance". Quickly rummaging through my memory, I find an EP that had been released before their debut "Fevered" and which I could not find anywhere. Just that EP has now been completely re-mastered and re-issued with some bonus tracks. So let's listen to the first steps of LEFT HAND SOLUTION.
Who knows the musical evolution of the Swedish quartet knows that their current singer Marianna Holmberg is not the original front lady of the band, but a certain Kicki Höijertz, who later joined SIEBENBÜRGEN. So her voice it is that we can hear on the 12 songs of "Shadowdance", a collection of songs of exactly this EP, the first two songs LEFT HAND SOLUTION ever recorded, two tracks from the time around their "Falling" demo and a SAMHAIN cover version.
And from the beginning it becomes clear that they sounded a bit different than on "Light Shines Black", a bit less refined, but still very heavy and slow, Doom Metal. Yet I cannot detect the Gothic influence that the band talks about, but that only to the side. Style wise, especially in the guitar work, LEFT HAND SOLUTION oriented themselves more on BLACK SABBATH or also CANDLEMASS, which is especially audible in the guitar work, while Kicki's voice (of course) sets the band apart from the mentioned bands. She does not have one of the nowadays so common sopranos, but a more mid-pitched to lower voice, which manages to leave its own imprint on the songs.
The tracks are between nine and eleven years old and for that sound surprisingly fresh, even though you can hear that before the re-mastering process the sound had been a bit thin, but that should not be of our concern with this version. The focal point of LEFT HAND SOLUTION is and was the heavy riffing of Joakim Mardstam, around which the songs are built, borne by Kicki's voice, which had not been on the highpoint of her vocal abilities yet, but still had been able to carry the songs with her expressive voice.
Remarkable also "M.B.", originally the hidden track of "Shadowdance" and most probably the first Doom Punk song of Metal history, and the SAMHAIN cover version "To Walk The Night", a ribute to the former band of Glenn Danzig, who ever since the beginnings had been a big influence on the Swedes.
Who does not know LEFT HAND SOLUTION yet, I would recommend "Light Shines Black" as first contact, who already has the two albums and would like to dig into the history of LEFT HAND SOLUTION a bit deeper, can definitely get "Shadowdance", too. (Online January 21, 2004)