(Pulverised Records, 2014)
It’s true old-school Death Metal has had a strong revival during the last 10 years, but what is apparent in the sounds of most newer bands is a clear worship of some certain band or album soundwise, may it be from Florida, Britain or Sweden. However, some bands started doing their stuff sounding just as original and fresh as they would have in the early nineties, as if they’ve been playing their stuff since then, not changing in nature. Swedish Vanhelgd is definitely one of these bands, giving me the authentic chills the minute I heard their Metal of Death. While reviewing their latest album I decided to review their first two albums as well, since they’re just as good in their own way.
The first full-length “Cult Of Lazarus” of 2008 (Crematorium Records) has a very in-your-face attitude, featuring blast-beats and D-beats besides the slower killing, a choice of style apparent in the later material of the band as well. The division of the paces is pretty similar to bands like Autopsy. The riffs are sometimes Black Metallic in the way some early nineties Swedish bands (like Unanimated) were, but never too technical. There is also (at least in my opinion) a strong Punk-influence present in the music, sometimes Hardcorish, sometimes Crusty or Grinding. Above all, the rotten drony sound of the guitars, the authentic groovy playing of the drums, and the sinister-sounding vocals (not growling, almost Blackened, but definitely more Deathly), gives a feeling of early nineties Death, Carcass, Entombed, etc. worship so straight from the heart, true fans of the genre can’t but notice the honesty from the first minutes of hearing the music.
The second album “Church Of Death” released in 2011 (Nuclear War Now! Records) comes across as a bit more serious than the first one (when it comes to overall aesthetics and perhaps lyrics as well), although continuing straight where the first album left us about three years before. The sounds are almost similar, perhaps a bit more clear (yet thick at the same time, especially when it comes to drum-sounds). The riffs are pretty much the same style as before, with a few more tricks and styles in the playing (of all the instruments). Again the music changes from slow Doomier parts to almost Grinding blasting paces, not forgetting the D-beats. The vocals sound the same, with two vocalists screaming and shouting in a Hardcorish tag-team way. Especially the D-beat parts combined with the Swedish vocals bring to mind bands like Skitsystem. The album is just as good and entertaining as the first one, timeless art of Death indeed.
The third and latest album “Relics Of Sulphur Salvation” returns again after about three years to familiar scenes of Death, with no changes to the line-up of the two first albums, besides the bass player. The sounds and production are a bit better than on the previous releases, with more room and air for the authentic and genuine spirits of Death to move and breathe. The guitars and basses are extremely heavy, the drums pound away with amazing crash- and ride-sounds, the vocals sound perhaps even more sinister and serious than before, all bathing in the glorious reverberating atmosphere and that high spiritual-like quality (perhaps) typical to Necromorbus Studios -mastering. This time around, more effects have been added to the music, and the whole album has a feeling probably more into liking of fans of Necros Christos and similar bands with an Occult vibe, although sounding just as Vanhelgdian as before. There are perhaps a bit less blast-beats or D-beats than before, making the whole thing move a bit more away from the Punk-influences of old, still sounding as old and Deathly as the first two albums. There isn’t a single boring part on the album, filled with intense atmosphere all the way. A true Death Metal masterpiece!
Although the third album is perhaps the most (up-to-date) interesting of the three, all the albums are a must to fans of old Death Metal, especially the Swedish sort (not forgetting Autopsy and old Death), and to the fans of the Occult strain of more modern styles coming forth with bands like Necros Christos, Vastum, Cruciamentum etc. Only Death is Real!
9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki