What do you do if you have mastered a particular art form? Some artists would just happily continue doing what they had mastered, on the theory that success breeds more success and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Others might retire and rest on their laurels. But some might create new challenges for themselves by focusing their energies on how to make what they had mastered sound different and new. And that’s what the Swedish death metal band Wombbath have done on their new album, Agma.
It should go without saying by now that Wombbath have mastered the art form of old-school HM-2-powered Swedish-style death metal. They got an early start on their mastery in the mid-’90s, went away for about 20 years, and then resumed work with 2015’s Downfall Rising. Since then founding guitarist Håkan Stuvemark and a new group of very talented comrades have pumped out three more albums which collectively proved, in increasingly convincing ways, that they were on very sure footing.
But now we have Agma, which is brimming with new ideas, so many of them that it’s a double-album, encompassing 16 tracks and more than an hour and 12 minutes of music. We are revealing one of those today in advance of Agma‘s December 31st release by Transcending Obscurity Records, a late date that we hope won’t cause Agma to be overlooked on EOY lists, because it can certainly lay just claim to be included.
Three different Wombbath members (Stuvemark, guitarist/vocalist Jonny Pettersson, and guitarist/violinist Thomas von Wachenfeldt) are credited with principal writing responsibilities across those 16 tracks, and we presume that the others (drummer Jon Rudin and bassist and bassist Matt Davidson) also left their fingerprints on the final results.
The track we’re premiering today, “The Seventh Seal“, was principally written by Pettersson. It’s still anchored by the massive chainsawing guitar tone we’ve come to expect and by a vertebrae-cracking, neck-moving drum attack, as well as Pettersson‘s gargantuan growl, which elevates into a blood-congealing howl (and is joined by scorching screams). There are massive chugs to be found, and the kind of pile-driving grooves that you think will open fissures in concrete.
In other words, the song will beat you senseless. But from the outset you’ll also hear a strange and sinuous melodic lead that generates an atmosphere of the supernatural, later joined by other tendrils of whirring and whining melody that soar in emanations of desperation and derangement. A shroud of imperious and apocalyptic danger blankets the song, coupled with the feverishness of fear, and it further includes an eye-popping, fret-melting solo that’s absolutely exhilarating to hear.
And thus it’s a multi-faceted song, albeit a persistently frightening one.
Agma was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jonny Pettersson at Studio Unbound, Sweden. Transcending Obscurity will release it in CD and variant vinyl editions, as well as digitally, along with apparel featuring the fantastic cover art of Juanjo Castellano
We’ve included pre-order links below, as well as streams of two previously released songs, “A World of Destruction” and “At the Giant’s Feet“.