Humanity's Last Breath

Like many, I’ve been waiting on a new Vildhjarta album for almost a decade now as the band has yet to release anything other than a few teasers and track or an EP since 2011’s, Masstaden. But little did I know there has been a perfectly good (and more productive) stand-in band lurking in the shadows all this time, but I didn’t know about them until I stumbled across 2019s Abyssal late in 2020 from a Swedish band called Humanity’s Last Breath (HLB).

Categorizing HLB is difficult, as there is a lot going on. The Vildhjarta comparison is valid as there is plenty of down-tuned, djenty heft, but there is also some of the modern downtempo/deathcore sound akin to the likes of Black Tongue and labelmates Distant and Bound In Fear. But also a little more ambition than simple, string bashing heaviness, there’s some choral arrangements, some clean vocals, some synths/atmospherics and such, but what ultimately matters is how stupidly, god-damn heavy this is.

Like Abyssal before it (which would have easily made my 2019 year-end list had I heard it earlier),  Välde (Empire), is an absolutely crushing record. I mean black hole creating, super nova destroying, abyssal-y heavy. And while certainly, it leans heavily into the chugging, atonal heft of their down-tuned, downtempo labelmates, there just seems to be a little more creativity and atmosphere than their peers.

From intro “Dödsdans” to closer “Vittring”, the 12 song, 55-minute monster (which admittedly is a shade long..) heaves, hulks, and lopes with merciless, unrepentant heft. Whether it’s massive, dissonant lurches like “Glutton”,  “Spectre” and “Futility” or more patient, atmospheric planet destroyers like “Earthless”, “Descent” and “Sirens”, the result s the same; sheer and complete aural destruction of everything in its path. Seriously if moments in personal favorites “Dehumanize”, “Hadean” or “Tide” (admittedly three of the more atmospheric, lurching numbers) don’t make you wanna bang your head and stomp around, I’m not sure what’s wrong with you.

Like many of their stylistic peers, the crushing tones, tend to bleed together later in the album, especially after the unrelenting 55 minutes, but it’s such a tangible destructive swathe, I can imagine Godzilla floor punching to this shit, and stays with you, especially if you have listened to it loud and a rally good home or car system (watch for shattered windows though).

Unique Leader seems to get some flak for having bands like this on their roster (even with a great death metal year in 2020), but when they can still deliver excellent tech /brutal death AND still find killer bands like Distant, To The Grave, Bound In Fear and HLB, kudos to them.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 13th, 2021


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