St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
Cheers to 20 Buck Spin for spiking the promo punch. Now I can ignore writing shit poetry about other promos just to pass the time, thank god.
In three words: Sweden, balls intact.
What kills: This does, and pretty thoroughly. Yes, that’s surprising. And no, it’s not because this is particularly original.
My first thought: NECROPHOBIC The Nocturnal Silence. Ring a bell? How about UNANIMATED’s In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead?
For lovers of the first influence, VANHELGD’s reverence is obvious — OBVIOUS — throughout the second track, “The Salt In My Hands,” and is less pointed but very present in a few others. The bleak spoken-word scattered throughout the album may even be a direct tribute. Who knows. I just like hearing those single notes climb, descend, shift, climb again and fade away. There’s beauty in such harmonized simplicity and it’s great to hear it done with cultivated skill.
The UNANIMATED influence, or at least the one I’m choosing to attribute to them, is in the mystical, tremolo-picked blasting passages that should sound entirely cliché by now. VANHELGD somehow does an end-around on 20 years Swedish incest to make those viable again as well. The space provided by doomier elements is another ancient secret of that time before time (i.e. around 1994) that UNANIMATED once inhabited.
Certainly there are other ways of looking at this. Trying to untangle the Swedish DM family tree is a tar baby I refuse to engage when there are fucking RIFFS to be coveted.
What rots: This could use just a little more variation, song-to-song, and perhaps some mood control. Searing and bleak madness often runs up adroitly against chromatic death metal and the effect is unintentionally abrasive. All the riffs are there, sometimes just in the wrong order; with some architecture they could see their maximum potential. PROFIT!
What matters: This is worlds better than yet another Stockholm DM poserfest, and far more sinister than any modern black metal blastfest. Hail to tempo changes!
Tell me more: For those who like numbers, I rate this one three bones short of two sawbucks.
Disclaimer: I am not drunk: This new Swedish death metal CD is actually worth having.
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