Vanhelga are a Swedish band, the brainchild of J. Ottosson (aka “145188”), who from its inception in 2001 until roughly 2013 was the band’s vocalist and sole instrumentalist. Beginning with the release of the 2013 EP Sommar (which followed a pair of albums and a handful of shorter releases), he has been joined by a changing line-up of other musicians.
We’ve been following Vanhelga’s progress since Sommar, which has taken us through three more albums and further shorter releases, and has demonstrated an evolving integration of stylistic ingredients that made the music (which could be simplistically labeled “melancholic black metal”) ever more difficult to pin down in genre terms but continually interesting.
Vanhelga have been at work on a new release, which follows up on their excellent 2018 album Fredagsmys, and today (as we previously announced) we’re premiering a song from it named “Dagar som denna” — which translates to “days like these”.
What inspired this song? Most of us will probably understand the inspiration. Do you ever get the feeling that today is going to be one of those days (like many recent days) that literally crawls under your skin? With this song, Vanhelga chose to highlight and celebrate these darker sides of reality rather than discarding them as a total waste. “At those peaks of depression, you feel completely useless, with no purpose or will. That’s what this song is about,” says Vanhelga member J. Ejnarsson. “I’m sure a lot of people who have experienced or are going through depression can relate.”
And in the words of 145188: “For me, personally, the track portrays the feeling of being stuck in an endless loop of hopelessness with only short glances of joy.”
Vanhelga have captured those feelings in emotionally involving, genre-splicing music that is itself open to each listener’s interpretation. “Dagar som denna” is sad but beguiling, wistful yet entrancing, pensive and poignant but also resilient and radiant.
The song alternates between two gradients of intensity and mood. In one, a measured, mid-paced drum beat provides the rhythmic foundation for ethereal ringing notes, a warm humming bass, and soulful but sombre singing. You can feel the introverted sorrow in the music, and become enthralled by it. In the other, the music becomes more intense, the drum popping, the riffing becoming more searing and penetrating, the shining leads a wailing cry. The mood might be interpreted as anguished, but the sound is also glorious, and could also be felt as the sound of heart-swelling hopefulness — perhaps those glances of joy that 145188 spoke of.
Either way, it’s a memorable song and a promising prelude to Vanhelga’s new album. For more info about the album, keep a close watch on these locations: