RSS Feed


Art Of Propaganda (2014)
Rating: 7/10

Längtan is the third instalment from this bunch of Swedish black metallers who enjoy dabbling with the depressive side of metal. As the band name translates as “desecrate” it’s no real surprise that this weird bunch are a tad deranged when it comes to their rather unusual brand of melancholic black metal, which sews together eerier, remote passages and cold, harsher structures.

Vanhelga are very much a black metal band, although as their press release states, “that would be too restrictive a definition”. That is rightly so, because this mysterious quintet are probably one of the most intriguing acts you’ll hear within the genre.

The band still boast those chilly guitars, which often race by with grey aplomb, constructing a framework of icy leads and bleaker riffs. All the while, crisp drums march with ominous intent throughout. This is the sort of record that keeps you on your toes, mainly in the spooky vocal approach of J. Gabrielson, who is clearly a forest short of a few trees as he spouts his ghoulish narration over the sprinkles of depressive guitars and ashen bass lines.

Vanhelga are a band who are hard to describe, but they are a band who express a great deal of hate within the peculiar soundscapes they knit together. They obviously don’t always feel the need to punish the listener with a barrage of noise, but instead the guitars are well thought out with the result being high doses of melody, which may come as a surprise to a few of you. The band are more than happy to let the listener in by way of accessible melody, catchy riffs and percussion, but there’s always that false sense of security with these guys. While one moment the track may drift into the realms of harmless majesty, there is still that dark corner where all evil lurks – where the band ideally wish you to tread.

I’m unsure if this is a concept album, but it’s one that boasts more unusual shadows than the previous opus, Höst (2012). What I really like about these guys is their beady eye for the avant-garde, meaning that the eeriness can really shine through the tiniest hole of grey so that the guitars can take on whichever form they choose, all the while remaining cold and disturbing.

Längtan runs for more than an hour, but not once does it become a bore, with tracks such as opener ‘Svartsint Ömhet’, and the likes of ‘Kärleksförklaring’ and the climatic ‘Exploderande Känslostorm’ showcasing the real talent of this secretive bunch who revel in the darker shades of the occult. This is extremely expressive black metal that is nigh on impossible to pin down, such is the variety within the framework of stark, yet revealing guitars and howling vocals.

Neil Arnold

<< Back to Album & EP Reviews

Related Posts via Categories