Vildhjarta – Måsstaden

Vildhjarta
Måsstaden

01. Shadow
02. Dagger
03. Eternal Golden Monk
04. Benblåst
05. Östpeppar
06. Traces
07. Phobon Nika
08. Måsstadens Nationalsång
09. When No One Walks With You
10. All These Feelings
11. Nojja
12. Deceit
13. The Lone Deranger

[11/29/11]
[Century Media]

With the impending release of their debut album Måsstaden, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the ravenous Swedes of Vildhjarta will round out djent’s version of ‘The Big Four,’ which also includes the likes of Periphery, Tesseract, and fellow thallmen Uneven Structure. Indeed, they carry many of the common staples that the genre is known for; the syncopated riffing, twangy guitar tones, and use of ambiance come in spades. However, Vildhjarta do much to differentiate themselves from the pack with their own distinct flair and nuance, being much more dark, unsettling, hypnotic and off-kilter with their refreshingly chaotic and dissonant approach at a genre that some believe is starting to wear thin.

Like most djent, much of the guitar work is percussive in nature, but the three-pronged guitar attack of Vildhjarta is much more inventive and abstract—almost like Veil of Maya practicing better songwriting, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza with slower grooves, or Structures if they knew what the hell they were doing. Think Ulcerate with a hardcore attitude, and you’re close to what Vildhjarta can bring to the table. I like making comparisons, but don’t let me paint the band into a corner; Måsstaden is much more refined than any band I’ve heard this year that is even close to being footed in the realm of deathcore.

Vildhjarta’s Swedish roots also show on Måsstaden. The ambient sections have an almost folky melodic tone to them as well, helping to create an appropriate atmosphere fitting for the album’s concept, which takes place in a hidden and isolated village, being narrated in a classic fable manner. It may or may not be coincidence, but residing in the worldwide death metal mecca seems to have rubbed off on this septet’s version of djent, being darker and more brutal than their cohorts. The vocal work from the two frontmen relies heavily on gravely screams and deep growls, with only a brief stint of interesting clean vocal work on the track “Traces,” and even then, they aren’t whiny or overly-polished. In fact, they serve to exclamate the album’s haunting turning point with lyrics like “…I must resist erasing the traces that you’ll never find. I hope you all can forgive me now. I am facing the fact that I am up against fate.”

Like any excellent concept album should, Måsstaden flows amazingly well and feels like it could be played as a continuous piece of music, a trait which also made Uneven Structure’s Februus that much more fantastic. Songs come and go organically, as if the entire album was written in a linear fashion from start to finish. This, when coupled with the nearly hour-long playtime, makes Måsstaden quite an immersive listen. Some listeners may be overwhelmed by this massive record, but those comfortable with the music will appreciate its epic feel.

I want to elaborate that Måsstaden is not your typical djent album, and I hate to call Vildhjarta deathcore because there’s something unique and interesting going on here that should be experienced without preconceived notions about where they should be pigeonholed. If you’re sick of high-pitched and whiny singing and are in the mood for something much more dark and intense that almost manages to outdo Meshuggah in absolute madness, then Vildhjarta is the band for you. If you’re sick of dumbed-down deathcore without substance and wish for a no-nonsense and forward-thinking trip of challenging brutality, then Vildhjarta is the band for you. Måsstaden may not have the glossy sheen that Periphery or One has, but it’s got the balls to make up for it. Thall.

Vildhjarta – Måsstaden gets…


4.5/5

– JR

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