How is it possible that any one band can manage to sound more intense than Meshuggah in this day and age? Just one listen through Masstaden, the stellar debut from Vildhjarta, and you’ll hear how true that statement is. It’s a concept record but don’t let that scare you away. Every song works separate from the concept but if you have a chance to listen from start to finish, you’ll be in for a treat.
There’s three (3! Daniel Bergstrom, Calle Thomer, Jimmie Akerstrom) guitarists here delivering punishing riffs in addition to drummer David Lindkvist, bassist Johan Nyberg, and vocalists (!) Daniel Adel and Vilhelm Bladin who switch between death metal growls and agonized screams. Then there’s songs like “Traces” which totally throws the listener by adding completely clean vocals into the mix until the darkness reigns once again.
Opener “Shadow” sets the tone for all of Masstaden by mixing unbridled fury with sheer elegance starting with a sinister guitar line until exploding into full on rage. “Dagger” continues in the same vein but drop the “sheer elegance” part unless you count the expert guitar playing.
Quite simply put, Masstaden is technical ecstasy throughout (“Nojja” I’m looking at you). There’s two or three songs that flow into one another and are just incredible. The ominous “Ostpeppar” begins quietly until a static riff leads into the aforementioned “Traces” which is just brilliant. Expertly crafted. Expertly executed. That’s Masstaden.
Vildhjarta’s debut has been a long time coming and fans of the Omnislash EP (And the songs released online) have been foaming at the mouth for a long time. Masstaden is well worth the wait and sure to be up there as not only one of the top metal debut’s for 2011 but also one of the top albums. If you’ve been waiting for a new Meshuggah record (with hints of Porcupine Tree and Opeth), Masstaden is sure to make you forget those guys for a long time.
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