Sunday, May 04, 2014

Vanhelgd: Relics of Sulphur Salvation (2014)

It's Only Death

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

Is there any band out there kicking our ass with straight up death metal? Death metal. Just death metal. No frills death metal. Not technical. Not Brutal. Not OSDM. Not doom death. Not blackened death. Not Polish. Just plain death metal. On of my favorite albums from last year was Abyssal's Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. It's a brilliant Great Wall of China death doom blackened death feast. But that album is so punishing, so relentless, it's not something I reach for unless I am in a special place inside my mind - in the ordinary course of things I don't much like being pummeled for pummeled's sake. The Abyssals and Portals of the world are undeniably talented and putting out material you should own. But what if I want something new but still something I can snap my neck to? What if I want something that's brutal but still dynamic, heavy as shit but not relentlessly depressive? Enter Vanhelgd, whatever the hell that means.

It means "awesome" in Swedish. Here we have a band also undeniably talented playing music that is undeniably death metal in the traditional sense of the word. But this is not death metal of a category. Although it feels like it, it's not old school death metal. It's modern but not in a technical sense, and the production while crisp does not lack for heft. Each instrument is clear but pronounced.

Also pronounced is the death theme. Now, Vanhelgd pull a Cultura Tres on the listener. We have song titles in both English and Swedish, so we cannot be sure if those Swedish song titles are awesome. But if the Swedish translates nearly as well as the English song titles, Swedish classes might be in order. "May The Worms Have Mercy On My Flesh" is such a great death metal song title. One of the best. The album title track and then the closer "Cure Us From Life" round out the theme. Cool cover. No keyboards. Death metal cred established.

All of the aesthetics would be for nothing if the music sucked. It doesn't. The titles of the songs are matched by the songs. All of the aforementioned songs are awesome, neck snappers. There are just the right amount of songs, and the album length is a tidy 41 minutes. The closing song is one of those exceptional songs that makes you want to spin the thing again. And so you should. Relices of Sulphur Salvation is a revelation on a number of levels. The cover art, the song titles, and the aesthetic is all death metal. And fortunately, so is the kick ass music. Death metal.

4 out of 5 stars.

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