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Vanhelga – Fredagsmys

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 07 June 2018, 8:02 AM

Black Metal trio VANHELGA (translates to “profane” in English) formed in Sweden in 2001. From their Facebook page, their music “explores the darker side of humanity. The one that few will admit exists, but which nevertheless is a huge part of every individual’s existence.” Their first full-length album was not released until 2010, and now comes their fifth, titled “Fredagsmys,” which contains eleven tracks.

The harrowing drone of an opening guitar riff fills the air gently at first in “Somnparalys.” The horrow is soon unleashed, with a dirty production and full Black Metal sound. I was not prepared for a contrasting NWOBHM riff complete with twin guitar harmonies, but somehow the intriguing combination works. “Psykotisk Sjalvinsilt” has a slower rhythm and melancholy tones. Amidst the lamenting vocals, melody shines with an expressive emotion. Using both clean and harsh vocals here, which is unusual for the genre, really allows the sound to stand out for me. “Varde Morker” opens with some more aggressive fanfare, and the vocals are anguished wails. The sound is part depressive and part angry, but all the while dark. Even the charming acoustical passages, while soft and pleasing, hold that doleful sound. Jönsson’s bass is great in the mix here as well.

“Ensam Mot Alla” features melancholy clean guitar notes and vocals. It leads you into down a sunny path to a warm field, alive with the colors of spring flowers, as you find yourself with a smile and nodding along to the sway of the rhythm and melody. But, “Forpassed Till Misad” reminds you of the potency of their sound, with an intense and quick moving rhythm. Once again they impress with wonderful guitar work, building harmonies and layers into the dismal sound. In the short three-minute Tva Blir Ett,” the mid-tempo anger is augmented with spires of melody that are both unexpected and blissful. This unique sense of songwriting is really quite striking. “Keep the Windows Closed” is a very dark song. A combination of clean and soft guitars with intensely frightening vocals and deep, thick riffs sound like hopeless screams coming from an insane asylum.

“RIP (Relationship in Pieces)” has a despondent and solemn sound, with clean vocals that are barely more than a whisper. Harsh vocals join in to echo the agony. “Feels like Breathing in Sulfur,” keeps a steady mid-tempo pace and a cold, bleak sound. The emotions come high mostly from the guitars, but the vocals help in this regard as well. The ending sequence features a softer passage of piano notes that is a reminder of fate sealed in darkness. “You are Temporary” is a harsh message that is reflected in the music. A mesmerizing rhythm acts as torture, with walls closing in around you, as all light fades. The title track closes the album. It’s an ethereal instrumental that has elements of both hope and despair, never quite reaching the point that you can tell which one you have in the end.

One thing that VANHELGA is not afraid to do on “Fredagsmys” is take the path not walked, and explore areas that others miss, too focused on the end goal. In this case the more important matter is the journey itself, and not the destination. Sometimes when I hear an album with eleven tracks, I think there are probably some fillers. But not here. The diversity they portray is impressive, probing into many different styles in the overarching genre of Metal. Calling it Black Metal is a loose enough description, but it really falls short in describing their craftsmanship.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Somnparalys
2. Psykotisk Sjalvinsilt
3. Varde Morker
4. Ensam Mot Alla
5. Forpassad Till Misad
6. Tva Blir Ett
7. Keep the Windows Closed
8. RIP (Relationship in Pieces)
9. Feels like Breathing in Sulfur
10. You are Temporary
11. Fredagsmys
145188 (J. Ottosson) – Vocals, Guitars
J. Ejnarsson – Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals
R. Jönsson – Bass Guitar
Record Label: Osmose Productions


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