Sunday, August 21, 2016

Vanhelgd (review by MMB)

Here is the review of the new Vanheldg album. After the review, you will find some official information that will be very useful. In addition, at the bottom of this feature, there is a link where you can hear the complete album.
Vanhelgd (Sweden)
Temple of Phobos
Dark Descent Records
Release: 22 July 2016
Vanhelgd’s fourth album is a very good one and it is the highlight of the band’s discography so far.
People who have heard the band’s music before this new album noticed that these Swedes’ traditional extreme metal has taken elements of death metal and black metal and they have been laboring at it, refining it and sharpening it up. The production, vocals and heaviness of death metal filled up with an abundance of black metal guitar work, has been one way of explaining the band by some reviewers who have heard the preceding albums.
One thing seemed clear: this was a promising band and it was a good idea to keep an eye on them.
Was something great on the horizon?
Well, something has happened. The band remains as committed as ever to their metal of death, but that’s not the most important thing. You could say that the band has now reached a better level of confidence, coming into their own, now you can hear them take their music in various directions, yet it is very compatible with the previous, traditional values of songwriting. Basically, this is how a band can expand and grow and be greater and sound better than ever before.
It is the feeling that the band’s skills in instrumentation and songwriting are really catching up to their own creativity and imagination and we are now hearing the music that they were hearing in their heads. They can play fast or slow, and it doesn’t matter, it sounds very good, regardless if it seems like death, black or doom.
For instance, they have a pronounced doom element on this album, but they make sure to add melancholy and melody. When the music is going slow, it has melody and makes doom sound good, not just slow. No one will call Vanhelgd a doom band, but listen to this album, there is plenty of doom here, but it’s memorable and done well.
Overall, this band plays fast occult extreme metal and it is their mission. The Nödtveidt-style riffing, speed and spirit is not something that the band shies away from, nor they do reject the best elements of classic death metal from Sweden. What’s different now is the quality of the songs: the various ways that the components have been configured. Perhaps it is the sense of confidence and the sense of freedom that explains it best. They know what they are doing and are gaining the confidence to do many things within the framework and tradition of Vanhelgd and the results are revealing. For example, the melodies are very pronounced, but they are not clichéd, expected, easy tricks. The bringing together of melancholy and melody works well for the band, and there are even a few surprises that show that maybe the band has reached the conclusion that they can do many different things, and that if things are done right, it can work for them.
This is not to say that everything is perfect. The last song is divided into two parts by two minutes of silence and it’s a questionable decision: the first part is a formidable end to the album and it has the feel of a strong doom and melancholy end, with some melodic, operatic, choir-like guest vocals. The album should have ended there. Instead, there are two minutes of silence and then the band launches into fast black metal. The problem is that it seems like an apology, like they are apologizing for having added melancholy and melody to their sound, as if to show that they can still play black metal, but there is no need to apologize to anyone. The two minutes of silence are unnecessary and this last fast song should have gone as the next-to-last track, opening the way for ending the album in an atmospheric doom manner.
The band has balanced out the new elements very well on the album and they do not have to prove anything to anyone. Case in point, even in the old days bands, like Celtic Frost (To Mega Therion), Bathory (Blood Fire Death) and Master’s Hammer (The Jilemnice Occultist) showed that there is a lot of room for creativity in extreme metal. What matters is the way that it is done and the intentions with which it is carried out. The real limits are things like our imagination, skills, and resources, and lack thereof.
Still, this matter of the track order does not cancel or take away from the fact that on this album the band’s previous works have come to fruition in a serious way.
This complete work is available for listening at the link below. It is a worthwhile investment of time to give a listen to the full album and to get to know it.
Below is some additional information about the band.
OFFICIAL: The Swedish masters of aversion and forlorn VANHELGD return with an even darker aspect of Death Metal surpassing what is deemed traditional and into the realms of blackened Doom Metal with Temple Of Phobos. While still firmly locked into that unmistakable VANHELGD sound, it is clear that on Temple Of Phobos they have steered into a much more despondent territory; very reminiscent of the early ‘90s Doom. VANHELGD have managed to capture the essence and vibe with such perfection on Temple Of Phobos that perhaps this will go down in VANHELGD's history as one their heaviest, gloomiest and blackest record ever.
Recorded and mixed at Studio Underjord with Joona Hassinen (Year Of The Goat, Saturnalia Temple, Ocean Chief, etc) , mastered by Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio (Watain, Repugnant, Desultory, etc) and once again gracing the ominous artwork by VANHELGD frontman Mattias 'Flesh' Frisk (Ghost, Entrapment, Vampire, etc).
Dark Descent Records will release Temple of Phobos in North America on July 22. The album is scheduled for European release July 1 via Pulverised Records.
1. Lamentation Of The Mortals
2. Rebellion Of The Iniquitous
3. Den Klentrogenes Klagan
4. Temple Of Phobos
5. Gravens Lovsång
6. Rejoice In Apathy
7. Allt Hopp Är Förbi
With the band formed in 2007, VANHELGD very quickly earned their reputation of churning out anguish and hate-filled old-school Death Metal.
VANHELGD have released three full-length albums and one 12-inch MLP to date, with the MLP being released exclusively at the NWN! Fest II.
VANHELGD have performed at several notable festivals such as Kill-Town Death Fest and NWN! Fest, etc.
For fans of early At The Gates, Eucharist, early Paradise Lost, Brutality and Swedish Death Metal!
Bass - Albrektsson, Jonas
Drums - Andersson, Björn
Guitars and Vocals - Frisk, Mattias
Guitars and Vocals - Johansson, Jimmy
BIOGRAPHY: In the end of the year 2007 Vanhelgd was formed by Björn Andersson (drums), Jimmy Johansson(guitars, backup vocals) and Mattias Frisk (guitars/ vocals). The intention was to play dark, blood soaked death metal in the vein of the old masters. Songs were taking form and the need for a bass player became more and more urgent. In the beginning of 2008 the old friend Viktor Gustafsson stepped in to handle the base guitar. A very ruff demo was recorded during a rehearsal and some of the songs where published on the internet. Soon the interest for the band grew and Vanhelgd recorded eight songs in Backbone studios in Mjölby and the first full length album Cult of Lazarus was released by Crematorium Records in November 2008. The band got in contact with the US based Nuclear War Now! Records who decided to release Cult of Lazarus as a 12” LP in 2009. In the summer of 2009 Vanhelgd recorded a couple of new songs as a demo. One of the tracks from that session, “Nec Spe, Nec Metu” was featured on the Invocation of Death compilation, released in June 2010 by Death invocation records. Vanhelgd started to work with the recording for their second full-length album Church of Death in April 2010. Due to various problems they didn’t finish until September the same year. Two of the songs were taken out to be featured on the EP Praise the Serpent which was released on the Nuclear War Now! Fest Part 2 in Berlin where the band also performed. In 2013 Jonas Albrektson replaced Viktor on bass and signed with Pulverised Records.

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