Century Media Records
28 November 2011
by Vincent Danger
Isn’t “djent” over yet? Apparently not. While there are those such as Periphery and TesseracT who are leading the way with Meshuggah-inspired riffs and huge, soaring melodic vocals, there are bands like Vildhjarta who believe that tech metal should be as brutal as it possibly can be btu also a beautiful as possible. Luckily, they’re pretty good at doing that.
Similar to those godfathers of the genre, Vildhjarta were formed on the internet and the sheer precision of the Swedes’ tech metal points to a high level of geekery. Let’s just ignore the pipe-smoking little forest creatures on the artwork for Måsstaden. I’m not sure we need to know the inevitably ridiculous fairytale concept behind the album.
Opening track, ‘Shadow’ starts off all delicately plucked guitars before exploding into a shuddering mass of palm-muted, de-tuned metal riffs. Neither is more glorious than the other and the contrast is purposefully startling. It’s a great start to the album and it doesn’t dip too much from here. ‘Dagger’ starts off ethereally before flying into some slowed-down but still completely bludgeoning riffs.
The almost completely gentle ‘Östpeppar’ is an important instrumental interlude before ‘Traces’ which provides another change in pace with spoken word vocals. Otherwise so far so discordant guitars. Closing track, ‘The Lone Deranger’ is, of course, the grand finale with its nearly Spanish guitars opening proceedings (again) before the blunt force trauma of another Vildhjarta riff destroys you once again. It’s a wonderfully expansive end to a fine album.
There are seven members of Vildhjarta and while that goes a long way to explaining why the layers of their music are so thick, it can lead to the music sounding a little bit muddled on occasion. There are 50 minutes of seriously complex music on Måsstaden and while there are constant swerves in style and tempo, it’s a lot to deal with unless you’re a huge fan of the genre.
While this branch of tech-metal is often labelled “progressive”, the meaning behind that becomes completely redundant if every album within the genre sounds the same. That’s not quite the case with Vildhjarta as there really are some fabulously off-kilter moments on Måsstaden and the spooky atmospherics do add another dimension but it’s still a point worth considering.
While the eerie overtones found throughout Måsstaden certainly help them to stand out, that so many of the songs follow the same formula of quiet… quiet… LOUD tends to dull the senses somewhat. However, when you look at this as a debut, it’s quite a stunningly polished release, but for Vildhjarta to stand out and apart from the ever-growing djent and tech-metal scene in the future, they need to add something truly special and different to their repertoire.
Sounds like: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, The Veil Of Maya
Top tracks: All These Feelings, Dagger, Benblåst
Guitar solo rating: 2/6 – there are some funny little plucky bits but it’s DJENT