Release Date: November 29, 2011
Måsstaden marks the debut major label release from Stockholm, Sweden’s Vildhjarta. The seven-piece Thall-style progressive death metal troupe formed in 2005 in Hudiksvall, Sweden by guitarists Daniel Bergström and Jimmie Åkerström along with bassist Johan Nyberg. The line-up is rounded out by drummer David Lindkvist, guitarist Calle Thomer and vocalists Daniel Ädel and Vilhelm Bladin.
The band released an EP, Omnislash, in 2009, but Måsstaden will be Vildhjarta’s first full-length effort. The album is conceptual in nature and “tells the tale of a hidden and isolated town, narrated in a classic fable manner”. The journey of Måsstaden will taken the listener on a far different path than Omnislash.
If film director Tim Burton were ever in need of an extreme metal soundtrack for one of his warped-vision movies, Vildhjarta‘s Måsstaden would fit the bill perfectly.
From the opening creepiness of “Shadow” the band sets the tone for an ominous and eerie affair with staccato picking that jangle the nerves, followed by an onslaught of sonic brutality. Like a nightmare come to life, the band slips into a heart piercing display on “Dagger”. Nyberg’s bass work alone will make the listener’s organs shift.
There is so much going on throughout this record that one might easily become overwhelmed, yet that is what makes this such an impressive debut. The band is not content to follow someone else’s path but rather to blaze its own sonic landscape. The guitar work is what truly elevates Måsstaden though. All three guitarists make every note count.
“Benblåst” is the album’s first single/video, and it is bound to pulverize the marrow in your bones with its dark and relentless attack. The anguished cries of lost souls at about 2:30 minutes in is beautifully disturbing.
This is followed by the graveyard crawling dirge-like instrumental “Östpeppar” which segues nicely into the catchy opening riff of “Traces” which is the only track on the album with clean vocals, which contrast perfectly with the soul-shredding growls. Once again Nyberg’s bass plucking feels like he’s thumping tendons rather than strings. This is one of the album’s real highlights, with its brilliant drumwork, tempo shifts, breakdowns, and combination of vocal styles.
Track by bleeding track, listeners are subjected to enough aural dissonance to sever their spinal column and snap their brain stems. From the rolling guitar riff of “When No One Walks With You” to the remorseless driving clang of “All These Feelings” to the grooving “Deceit”, Vildhjarta takes you through the paces. By the time you reach the epic finality of the seven-and-a-half minute album close, “The Lone Deranger” all one can do is lie on the floor is a quivering mass.
With thick growls, numerous tempo changes and plenty of discordant nuances driven home by furious palm-muted djent riffage, Vildhjarta are re-imagining the style made so famous by Meshuggah.
Vildjharta have created one of 2011’s most beastly debuts. Måsstaden is going to make plenty of Best of lists this winter, and deservedly so. The entire album is imbued with caliginous ambiance, cacophonous chaos, and enough barbarous brutality to triturate your skull into a fine dust. All hail Thall!!!
You can currently hear the full album stream with our friends at GuitarWorld.com