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vanhelga_mortem
Artist: Vanhelga
Title: Mortem Illuminate Mea
Genre: Black Metal
Release Date: 2010
Label: Inominatus Productions


Album Review

Sweden’s VANHELGA is a one man black metal band comprised of the sole individual who only gives not a name, but a number, 145188. In the linear notes, this individual writes that he/ she intends the album to be a “reflection of the journey towards infinity and beyond”. Perhaps to refer to him/herself as a number is to emphasize how insignificant the human race is in the face of the infinite cosmos. And the music on this debut album reflects that. Many of the tracks are highly dissonant black metal, raw and twisted while also rich in a dark atmosphere and plenty of melodies interwoven amongst the sonic chaos. For the first part ‘Mortem Illuminate Mea’, listeners may wonder if VANHELGA is “just another black metal band”. The shrieks amongst all the mix of tremolo picking and blast beats tend to sound the same for the first four tracks or so tend to make the music a bit monotonous, sounding like a mix between XASTHUR, SATYRICON, and MARDUK. The only thing that really seems to change is the guitar and drum pace, which will often slow down for a doom metal style and depressive tone while adding a much needed dose of melody from the guitar solos, such as on ‘Blessings Of Nothingness’.

Once ‘Saknad’ hits, then things start to change a bit. The beautiful piano introduction really adds a dynamic feel to the music, and even throughout the chaotic black metal parts listeners can hear how there is a lot more melody involved, especially when the drums and vocals quiet down so the guitars can play some sole riffs, and then the drums pick up again with a great rhythmic beat. ‘Ritual Of Volition’ features interspersed acoustic guitar in the way that a band like PANOPTICON would use them, although that group is more focused on avant-garde atmosphere and VANHELGA still retains a very basic, yet enduring principal to black metal. Tracks like ‘Death’ fall more into the more generic black metal style like the earlier tracks are; these tracks aren’t bad, but also don’t really add much to the music because they are performed in a style that’s probably been heard from about fifty other bands. And it doesn’t help that the drums tend to sound like they come from a machine rather than a person if they stay in the same beat and pace for too long.

Thankfully, the final track, ‘Emptiness’, features a bit of the fast and slower bits of the black metal that VANHELGA have performed so far. For the most part, it is electrified and raw and doesn’t feature any organic or acoustic bits, but there is a bit of experimenting. The guitars certainly have been slowed down in their distortion and the drums crawl through - still monotonous - but with a more enjoyable, almost funeral march. There even seems to be a bit of experimenting, or accident, with the sound on the drums for there are moments where it feel like a static shock goes through the drums each time they are hit, like someone put a microphone right next to it. It’s odd, but makes listeners wonder rather than turn off the music. As a final result, VANHELGA’S debut is a good start, and impressive for just one individual to do. The lyrical concepts are very esoteric, but it seems the music could have been a bit more experimental like the two middle tracks on the album and reflected that nature rather than for the most part try to be straight on, chaotic black metal.


Tracklist

01. Fog - 3:38
02. Blessings of Nothingness - 5:550
03. Knowledge Through Contradiction - 6:31
04. Words of Flesh - 6:48
05. Saknad - 7:04
06. Ritual of Volition - 4:46
07. Death - 4:27
08. Emptiness - 7:26


Line-up

145188 - all instruments and vocals


Website

http://www.myspace.com/vanhelga218


Cover Picture

vanhelga_mortem


Rating

Music: 7
Sound: 6
Total: 6.5 / 10


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