Vanhelgd
Temple of Phobos

For me, Sweden’s Vanhelgd , are a lot like label mates Undergang; a bit of an anomaly to me. They seem to be critical darlings, I enjoy and own all the albums, but never seem smitten with them. When I’m listening to them, I’m truly digging the big Finnish crumble meet old school Swedish must, but never crave them or truly love them.

But on album number four, (on as many different labels), there is a point about 1;50 into “Lamentations of the Mortal” where the guitars come  crashing in with a tone that made me go “Oh Fuck……”, a tone that I have not heard before, mixing Swedish buzz and Finnish grime, with jaw dropping, will imposing bad intentions. And for me, it signaled this was finally the album that finally got me hooked on Vanhelgd.

Amid the aforementioned mix of styles, it also appears Vanhelgd are taking a few more experimental chances as well as dooming up their sound a bit (“Gravens lovsång” really pushes the doomy mood, and could be a Paradise Lost riff, complete with despondent solo.). You get some really well done female vocals and atmospherics amid the big, churning riffs, and they are perfectly implemented, balancing those earthy guitars with some truly brilliant ethereal moments.

And those moments are what make the album. As between strong , loping bruisers like the opener,”Rebellion of the Iniquitous”, the title track or “Rejoice in Apathy”, there are real standout moments; One is the choir and Summoning -y, regal trumpets that lace “Den klentrognes klagan” and the other is the angelic female voice that graces 12 minute closer “Allt hopp är förbi”, a contender for one of the best songs of year. Granted, there is a couple of minutes of silence in the track, but the wait is worthwhile as the song’s doomy main riff resurfaces in a more ferocious blackened tempo and delivery.

With Temple of Phobos, Vanhelgd have finally reeled me in with a masterful death/doom album littered with album defining, brilliant atmospherics touches (that I hope are further developed even more) and strong overall song writing. Let’s hope Undergang’s next album does the same.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 5th, 2016

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