NILS PATRIK JOHANSSON "The Great Conspiracy"
NILS PATRIK JOHANSSON
“The Great Conspiracy”
Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was gunned down and killed after leaving a movie in February 1986. Those facts are not in dispute. Almost everything else about this shocking act is. A petty crook named Christer Petterson was arrested for the crime but the conviction was later reversed and Petterson walked free. Another suspect in the case was killed under suspicious circumstances while in the USA. To this day, Palme’s assassination remains unsolved. Palme was a highly controversial figure and many were not unhappy to seem him gone. The generally peaceful Swedish nation was shellshocked by the act and is haunted by it yet today.
One of those haunted by the murder is Swedish metal icon NILS PATRIK JOHANSSON. He is absorbed by the assassination and has really done a rigorous study of it. The result is “The Great Conspiracy” and I have to say that JOHANSSON, who has not been heard Stateside much in recent years, has come up with an outstanding concept album based on Palme’s death. I was expecting this to be something similar to SKYBLOOD’s recent project with a lot of prog and cinematic influences, but this album is metal all the way and pretty fierce to boot.
NPJ’s angry Dio-like snarls predominate on a record that starts with the aggressive power of “The Agitator” and moves to the even faster and heavier “A Night At The Cinema”. Double bass drumming really kicks this up a notch and I notice with interest that the drumming is by JOHANSSON’s own son Frederik. There’s some really cool and pompous vocal lines, most especially on the delirious sounding “March of the Tinfoil Hats” and “The Baseball League”.
One misstep is “Prime Evil”, which is just too long and draggy. The semi-classical instrumental “Requiem Prelude” also seems kind of filler. But the songs in general are really interesting in construction, with traces of QUEEN and FLOYD in places, and definitely heavy and riff based. HPJ is great as usual and the lyrical approach is thought-provoking. NILS really has thought seriously about the Palme affair and the song “March of the Tinfoil Hats” shows he has common sense scorn for the crazier conspiracy theories while acknowledging something very dark and dangerous happened to Palme.
This is a really strong album from a great voice in European metal!
NILS PATRIK JOHANSSON