Dec 022011

(The Madithraeli . . . uh, TheMadIsraeli . . . hath entered a thtate of thalldom to write thith enthuthiathtic review of the debut album by Sweden’s Vildhjarta. I feel compelled by unknown fortheth to thay: THALL!)




Alright, so we have a band here who have named themselves after a Swedish Dungeons & Dragons expansion about an ancient magical forest, have invented a word that has no veri-fucking-fiable definition that makes ANY SENSE and insert it into everything, and have pulled off one of the most notable changes in sound in the last five years.  But let’s get a refresher on what really matters…

That’s right folks.  What we have here is a collection of THE MOST TITTY RIPPING COMPOSITIONS YOUR EARS WILL HAVE LEARNT TO GRASP. I don’t even know what in the fuck “titty-ripping” means, but if it translates into “full of thall”, I don’t care what they call it.

So how would one describe Vildhjarta anyway?  It’s hard for me to say, because while I certainly attest they are in the djent camp, there is an argument to be made for them being deathcore in some fashion.  I would rather argue that Vildhjarta is simply paving the way for the future of djent though, as their sound is undeniably creative and original in the midst of a genre that has obviously been stagnating for a while now.

In other words, if I weren’t writing this review right now, I’d be fapping to this album until I died of protein starvation.

Wait, did I just say that?

So, Gojira may have competition, at least as far as bands who can produce the heaviest matter in the universe.  Vildhjarta’s world is an entirely new dimension of heavy, with the same brontosaurus-plodding aesthetic.  Kind of like the equivalent of being sentenced to having your balls sledgehammer-fucked, your torso shotgun ganked (whatever the fuck that means), and your eyes sporked into mush (do what?), only for those body parts to grow back and the process to repeat.

It’s like the seven steps of Buddhism, except this time it’s the thirteen steps of getting fucked-the-fuck-up and thalled into oblivion.

The album is a real trip, to say the least.  It’s a concept album, and I really wish I could’ve pre-ordered this and gotten the physical goods in order to review the true product, lyrics and all, but such is the reviewing game, in which we make an effort to be ready with words by release time. The thing is, this album is bigger than the sum of its parts, more surreal than the peers milling around it, and more ambitious than all bedroom-djenters in the world combined.




Vildhjarta are not only doing the darkest take on djent since Meshuggah, they do it while incorporating vibes that I’d normally be opposed to, but which totally make this album.  Everything sits in a very stone-set, dubstep kind of pace — the dual vocal attacks, in their throaty rasp-and-abysmal-guttural pincer attack, are very hip-hop-ish in their flow and act as a secondary motivator for the intense ass-groove going on.

The riffs on this album?  Out of this fucking world.  They sound like someone turned my brain into a rubbery substance and starting using tweezers to twist and pull it around to create the perception of different realities simultaneously.  Never in my life have I heard a band with such a distorted world-view-aesthetic transmitted through guitar.

We are no longer dealing with the guys who wrote that song “Shiver” way back in 2009, just to get laid.  We are dealing with fucking djenty magicians who have mastered the art of thallcemy, crafting the ultimate in snake-charming grooves and melodies, especially in serpentine, slithering numbers like “Eternal Golden Monk”, “Dagger”, “Traces” and BASICALLY THE ENTIRE FUCKING ALBUM.

Another thing about Vildhjarta that makes this album is the TRULY PROGRESSIVE song-structuring.  The sections are ever-evolving, ever-changing, ever-varying, and ever-intensifying.  The way that this band can take one riff and rearrange it fifty different ways, and make every variation a totally unique experience is fucking nuts — especially the moments when they take the same ambient clean section and continue playing constantly changing riffage around it, AND IT ALL FALLS IN LINE WITH THE CLEAN PART. These are signs of the purest, most potent displays of song-writing.

While Vildhjarta have definitely carved themselves a niche that no one else is even touching right now, each song also sounds completely unique, each different from the others (which had to make it a bitch to create the flow throughout the album that Måsstaden achieves as well as it does), despite a unifying musical theme which is evident in “Dagger”, “Eternal Golden Monk”, and “Benblast”, for example.

It all fits together though, presenting the sound of a fractured psyche, a torn soul laid bare, unguarded ground for all forms of madness to occupy.  This album really feels like a descent into insanity.  This feeling is especially captured during the instrumental interludes and clean pieces, which tell short, micro-stories all their own.

Other moments, such as the odd, melodically spoken mid-section of “Traces”, are awesome twists within the tapestry that rivet attention and then are NEVER TO BE HEARD AGAIN (yeah, so, I broke the “no clean singing rule” AGAIN, but I found an album that sticks to it like 96.4%, or some shit, this time), which is part of what keeps the album interesting.  At other times, this album just provides the brutal grooves, such as the epic three-parter “When No One Walks With You/”All These Feelings”/”Nojja”, which brings out more snake-charming riffage with epic thallage intact.

This whole thing just kills.  Let it also be known that I think “The Lone Deranger” might be closing track of the year for me.

I’m not going to specifically address the individual member-performances, because this is the practice of fucking Thallcemy.  This band have turned themselves into one cohesive thall, an impenetrable fortress of interspatial dimensions woven into a web of distorted realities (what in the fuck am I on about?!) that can only be entered by the most zen-like followers of thallism.  Once you achieve a state of sublime thallditation, you will never leave it.

The production on this album though?  Insanely awesome.  Especially the much made-ado-of guitar tone.  It has so much twang, yet so much growl to it.  It avoids the trappings of all digital tone, and not only that, it SOUNDS TOTALLY UNIQUE.

Before I played this album for the first time, I had to muster the amount of zen required to be able to say, “my body is ready”.  My body was ready, indeed.  Is yours?

(The album was released by Century Media on Nov 29 and is available for sale HERE, among other places. For more about the “thall meme”, see this.)

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  20 Responses to “VILDHJARTA: “MÅSSTADEN””

  1. Well. They sure do like Meshuggah.

  2. This is an amazing album! I love the whacky guitar tones found in “When No One Walks With You” and “All These Feelings”. I also consider these the best songs of the album. If this album doesn’t make you get up and fucking move I think you may be deadened inside. The unifying structure Israel talks about fits very well into this album and are EXTREMELY evident in the songs I mentioned. They take the riffs and whacky guitar tones and move them from one song to another so that you feel like you are just experiencing a reiteration of the same song; yet it remains fresh. I happen to like this quite a bit. I noticed Israel said this was a concept album but I am not sure what the concept is actually. Anyone happen to know?

    • It’s not a typical concept album; it’s more of an environment. If you look at the front of the album and analyze, it becomes apparent that this is a location. “Masstaden” translated from Swedish to English means “seagull port”. Each character you see through the artwork plays a part in the chronological story beginning at “Shadow” and ending at “The Lone Deranger” (or “To Be Continued” for the preorders). You just need to sit yourself in a dark forest surrounded by eerie spirits and mask-looking faces. Take it all in. They created a world of their own.

  3. ummmmm holy shit!!!!!!

  4. Great review! It makes me want to revisit the album more than I already do, and if I hadn’t bought it the day it came out (purely based on hype) then you would have just sold me on it. Having only listened to Masstaden twice still, I think I’ll throw it on right now with this new perspective. I think for me this will be a real grower.

  5. Fuckin’ A’ man

  6. Mmmmmmmmm. Fantastic.

  7. LITHP! Also, quite some badass music right here.

  8. Sorry to sound shallow and retarded, but I hate it when death metal musicians wear scarves.

    Why is that drummer wearing a scarf?

  9. Had a thought: djent/doom. Not sure that even makes sense as a concept, let alone describes this album, but I figured I’d pass it on.

    • You may be onto something there.


    • Interesting idea, but I’m having trouble imagining it. At a really high level, I think of doom as being slow-paced and djent as being rhythmically rapid and more intricate. Hard to see how they’d fit together, unless maybe the songs would change in mid-stream.

      • Stretch the rhythm over a longer period of time? The tendency towards ambience in djent would, I think, work well to close gaps in a riff spread over a longer period. I currently have no way to determine if this would work.
        Certain moments in the album reminded me of one of the Monolithe albums, which is how I ended up with that idea. There are some moments on Masstaden where things are moving slower than anything else I’ve heard in djent. Middle of “When No One Walks”, for instance.

  10. Thanks for posting the Dagger video! I immediately bought the album after hearing that eruption of greatness!

  11. sorry to say but if a band wishes to play on the lines of meshuggah…a human cloning sample of tomas haake is necessary…

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