This isn’t the first time I’ve said this and it won’t be the last. One of the things I enjoy most about doing reviews like this is that I get exposed to music I wouldn’t normally seek out on my own. I am familiar with Vildhjarta and the little bit of them I heard in the past didn’t turn me away, they’ve been a band that I’ve always thought “maybe I should give them a try” but never did, so this is me finally giving them a chance.
First thing I will say about this album is it’s long… like really long. Definitely sit down and get ready for a journey before throwing it on. Aside from that, there were plenty of very enjoyable parts throughout the album. As I said earlier, I am fairly unfamiliar with the genre so the dissonant, polyrhythmic riffs were a bit jarring, but after a few seconds into each song I could understand their context a bit easier, some moreso than most. The underlying theme I realized was that the song would be in one overarching “key” with the background atmospheric track and the guitars and bass would basically skirt on the edge of the diatonic key, some parts were in key but would throw in some kind of repeating accidental that upon the repeats would give a very unique harmonic and rhythmic (through the rhythmic patterns of the riffs themselves) dissonance that was truly something I had never heard before. Although the dissonance still wasn’t “harsh” like in other extreme genres, it was more of an unsettling “calm” if I can say that. Again, I am unfamiliar with the band’s previous material so this may be obvious to fans that are much more knowledgeable about this band and this genre, but I finally “got” it if that makes sense and I definitely didn’t hate it.
Aside from the extremely unique “djenty” parts, there were some riffs and sections that sounded a lot like other music I normally listen to. There was very obvious “Swedish” melodic or even modern metalcore sounding sections, absolutely surreal clean vocal sections, many of which with a groovey rhythm section behind it gave a very apparent Gojira vibe. The very clean parts sounded a bit strange to be honest, like there was some kind of effect on them that I didn’t love personally. I’m not sure if it was that or that there was very little, if any vibrato and it just sounded strange to my ears. It didn’t kill the song for me but was something I’d personally like to be a bit different. The production outside from that was top notch, pretty typical for the genre to my knowledge. I’ve noticed at least within the last ten years that these types of bands are pushing the boundaries for modern metal production and the case is the same here.
It’s difficult for me to rate this album if I’m being honest, but I will do my best. I enjoyed it, but the thought of listening back to the album at least at the time of writing this is a bit unappealing. Kind of like riding a fantastic roller coaster once but not wanting to do it again, at least not that same day.
Review by: Tyler
den helige anden
penny royal poison
Record label: Century Media Records
Release date: October 15, 2021
01. Lavender Haze
02. När De Du Älskar Kommer Tillbaka Från De Döda
06. Den Helige Anden (Under Vatten)
07. Passage Noir
08. Måsstadens Nationalsång (Under Vatten)
11. Mitt Trötta Hjarta
12. Detta Drömmars Sköte En Slöja Till Ormars Näste
13. Phantom Assassin
14. Sunset Sunrise
15. Sunset Sunrise Sunset Sunrise
16. Penny Royal Poison