Vanhelga – Langtan

vanhelgaFeaturing 2 former members of Lifelover (Vocalist and live bass player) along with members of Skogstron and Taketh, Sweden’s Vanhelga is a polluted and strange take on classical piano meets black metal music. Airy and unique, Langtan appeals to me thanks to a no holds barred descent into adventurous songwriting in a very similar fashion to Lifelover, though that band always took things off the charts into realms of perverse creepiness. Vanhelga may not be as tormented, but possess a gift of creating something out of the ordinary.

Langtan feels like to albums simultaneously sewn together. Fuzzed out black metal buzzes at the foundation of these songs, with dominant acoustic/clean guitar and piano/synth providing the harmonies/hooks for these songs to burrow deep within your thoughts. Vocalist J. Gabrielson acts as the psychotic thread holding this all together as he shrieks, moans and contorts his misery into an interesting performance of extremes and further drawing similarities to Lifelover. His performance alone perfectly alternates between the 2 personalities of this bands music and not only is that a tall order to fill for a vocalist, it is a downright impressive feat while further giving this album a bold sense of creativity and fearless experimentation. In spite of the dense weightiness each song unveils within its layers and overall sound, the clean instrumentation found soaring over the top often allows beautiful, even lighthearted melodies to come in and act as hooks for each song. Langtan is like a nursery rhyme in hell, or the endless struggle for death to overtake life as it mires everyday triumphs with subtle hints that nothing matters in light of that inevitable end.

Having said that, we turn to a statement from Vanhelga: “With Längtan, we have each sought, either with our words or our music, to give voice to our hatred of life. And our love of life. A life that is a prison full of slaves. If we don’t embrace the end of this life, and transcend the limitations imposed on us by this world we live in, then we will never be free. Because freedom can only exist once we have broken free from the material world and the strictures imposed on us by society. To attain it, we must become one with all and none. It is a state we can only attain through death. Längtan is about longing. Längtan is about death. It is about facing death without fear and without regret, because death is another chapter in our life, not the ending of it. It is the definitive chapter in our lives. Lives that are lived as half lives, fake lives, because we are forced to live them within the only reality that this fucked-up world allows us. It is an existence we want to escape from in order that we may truly start to live. So that we may find peace. A peace we can only find after death. A life we can only live after death. A life we can live forever. Längtan is about longing. Längtan is about death. Längtan is about the longing to die.”

Perhaps we have heard all of this rhetoric before from bands that have come before Vanhelga, but to this critics ears, they have created an album, their 3rd full-length since their 2009 inception, that mirrors their mission statement perfectly. Even though it seems that Langtan loses some focus and potency as it progresses, this is an interesting and engaging release meant for those late hours when we all tend to wrestle with our own depressions. Fans of Lifelover and older Bethlehem take note! -Marty
Art of Propaganda

~ by martyworm on May 28, 2014.

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