Yesterday, the film world got some big news (no, not the "Star Wars" Blu-ray release). Producers announced that Rooney Mara, star of the reboot of "A Nightmare on Elm Street," will play the role of Lisbeth Salander in the American version of "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." The film will be the first in a planned trilogy of titles based on the best-selling books by Stieg Larsson, the late Swedish author who has taken the literature world by storm. It's a big coup for Mara, who has floated somewhat under the radar but is about to break (she also has a role in "The Social Network," sure to be one of the biggest releases of the fall).
In the novels (and in the original Swedish version of the film), the character of Lisbeth Salander is nothing short of a tough, edgy badass whose survival skills are regularly put to the test. Since Rooney already told us she used Swedish metal to get herself ready for her terror-centric role in "Nightmare," here are the bands she should put in regular rotation to psyche her into the role of Lisbeth Salander.
One of the most progressive heavy bands in all of Scandinavia, Opeth have continuously evolved from simple metal grinders into a giant monolith of noise that incorporates jazz and orchestral music as well as industrial and melodic rock. Their latest album, 2008's Watershed, contains seven punishing compositions, most stretching well past the seven minute mark.
For 23 years, Meshuggah have continued to experiment with the limits of their metal sound, but no matter what is on top, the base remains the same: Muscular, jackhammering riffs that incorporate a number of inventive rhythms and polyrhythms. 2005's Catch Thirtythree, which is best consumed as one continuous song, is the greatest example of their ability to stretch and bend while still remaining violent.
Truly legends in the metal game, Amon Amarth (another name for Mount Doom given in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings") originally began as a grindcore band before discovering the joys of melodic metal. The world "melodic" can be a bit misleading, as even though Amon Amarth are prettier than Opeth or Meshuggah, they still keep savagery and execution at the center of the sound. Their latest album, 2008's Twilight of the Thunder God, totally rules.
Soilwork have also gotten more melodic as they've gotten older, though their sound remains firmly entrenched not in the traditional grinding of Swedish metal but rather in the bluesy sounds of British heavy metal of the late 1970s. Their 2005 album Stabbing the Drama represents the best of all possible worlds for the band, as it brings in their roots, turns up the keyboards, plays with the beats and delivers some memorable tunes like "Weapon of Vanity" and "Distance."
My personal favorite Swedish metal band of all time, Tiamat traffic in over-the-top symphonic metal that constantly builds and crashes. Lead by dynamic vocalist Johan Edlund (who was known as Hellslaughter early in the band's existence), the band constantly builds drama using a deft combination of power, finesse, beauty and evil. All the albums are great, but for sheer strangeness, I prefer 2002's Judas Christ.
What's your favorite Swedish metal band? Let us know in the comments!