Review: ”Måsstaden Under Vatten” by VILDHJARTA

When it comes down to it, it could almost be considered a crime against humanity that a collective like VILDHJARTA have been allowed to leave in excess of 2920 days between releases but the quality of their 2011 debut “Måsstaden” and 2013 EP “Thousands Of Evils” have been more than enough to keep the home fires burning until their timely return. Formed in 2005 in Hudiksvall Sweden they have been something of a viral enigma during their career but with drummer and now noted producer, Buster Odeholm (also known for his work with Born of Osiris, Shadow of Intent and playing guitar in Humanity’s Last Breath amongst others and a multi instrumentalist in his own right) heavily involved in the production, mixing and mastering of the music, it seems that building a monster has been the bands desire over the past 7 years…

…and there is a strange almost surreal irony that the quartet have conjured 10 minutes of new music for each year they have been away as ”Måsstaden Under Vatten” not only picks up where 2011’s ”Måsstaden” left off but clocks in at an incredible 80 minutes and 12 seconds and when asked the band simply say “Art happens when art happens” and leave us to wonder. As sophisticated as a fine Wine and yet as soaked in down-tuned staccato riffs and pulverizing grooves as ever, the obvious comparisons to the likes to Tool and Meshuggah are as plain to see as they ever have been (as if the two bands were smashed together in a supergroup) but what VILDHJARTA have is their own sense of oppressive and melancholic atmosphere that makes them unique and worshipped by fans on a Global level. Its the juxtaposition between the spine juddering DJent riffs and the melodies that lay beneath that make ”Måsstaden Under Vatten” a truly special record, each of those melodies breaking through the dark clouds like rays of light through the skull crushing drumming and savage breakdowns. The guitar tone is brutal and provides the material with a searing intensity but cuts like “måsstadens nationalsång (under vatten)” (or “Seagull City’s national anthem (underwater)“) build on that with icy synths buried into the music to give you a sense of nauseating horror before windchime mimicking guitars and the sound of frogs croaking at a swamp as dusk fills the air and provides a sense of misdirection and bewilderment. There are moments when you’re not sure whether you should be starring in wonder at the horrific beauty of what you’ve just heard or rushing to join a circle pit as is set off by the blue touch paper of the scorching riffs from the heaviest of gauged strings. Vilhelm Bladin’s vocals remain as blood gargling as ever although there are a few bridged group melodies on the likes of “vagabond” that build the sound up while never breaking into any clean singing. The steady, mid tempo chugging of Daniel Bergström and Calle-Magnus Thomér some how remains captivating throughout with variations in tempo being subtle and smoothly executed, the crushing “detta drömmars sköte en slöja till ormars näste” (or “the womb of this dream a veil to the snakes’ nest“) being a particularly brutal cut. Then you have the downtempo groove of the haunting “phantom assassin” that sounds like the hallucination of a straight jacket wearing asylum inmate having been injected with an unnamed clear liquid to pacify, it’s that unhinged. The nuances are what makes this an enthralling affair, the deadly play on light and shade continuing to throw up rough diamonds, as beautiful as they are ugly, the gift that you will find something new in with each deafening listen. It’s no wonder that bands like Reflections consider them a major influence [8/10]

Track listing

1. lavender haze (03:23)
2. när de du älskar kommer tillbaka från de döda (03:54)
3. kaos2 (04:01)
4. toxin (02:56)
5. brännmärkt (05:48)
6. den helige anden (under vatten) (05:27)
7. passage noir (04:27)
8. måsstadens nationalsång (under vatten) (05:34)
9. heartsmear (03:24)

1. vagabond (07:18)
2. mitt trötta hjarta (03:56)
3. detta drömmars sköte en slöja till ormars näste (03:06)
4. phantom assassin (02:58)
5. sunset sunrise (04:44)
6. sunset sunrise sunset sunrise (06:00)
7. penny royal poison (03:09)
8. paaradiso (10:03)

måsstaden under vatten” by VILDHJARTA is out 15th October 2021 via Century Media

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