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Änglagård - Viljans Öga CD (album) cover

VILJANS ÖGA

Änglagård

 

Symphonic Prog

4.26 | 1152 ratings

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Argentinfonico
5 stars The Indomitable Album

"Viljans Öga" is Änglagård's third and last studio album, released 30 years after the emblematic Hybris, their debut album. Exclusively instrumental, this is not a breakthrough in their discography but a reinforcement of hierarchy and a demonstration that, despite the fact that 3/10 of a century has passed, the band's name has never lost weight. If there's one thing you learn listening to these monsters, it's that you have to take advantage of every dosis of their music they give you. 4 sides, 4 songs, Tales From Topographic Oceans' manner (but with an almost totally opposite music, let's be clear). Here we go.

The opening song is called "Ur Vilande". The album starts quietly, with a dominant flute from the beginning. The other instruments will enter either accompanying or making some nice arrangements. The track gradually descends into dark, mournful and somewhat mysterious melodies. The evolution of the song is joined by a guitar and a cello that keep trying to decipher the aforementioned mystery as if they have some clues, with some simply spectacular bass lines! And as if the whole thing has been disturbed and erupted, the instrumentation collapses and breaks through the first coating to continue working on its own project. Änglagård works so well in their style that it is a pleasure to listen to every second. It is worth remembering that the driving instrument of this song is the flute; it volatilises the song in moments of fury, calm, thought and transition. The electric guitar provides elongated or curved notes to give a wonderful sense of movement. You'd just know this song is theirs by listening to 5 random seconds. Halfway through the song, Johnson along with his must-have mellotron lends a rather entertaining solo, accompanied impeccably by Olsson with just the right amount of percussion. From here on, i.e. its final minutes, everything is utterly out of control but not sloppy, as if it represented a fight between two angry family members who are flinging everything at each other, with its moments of calm and ruthless and, somehow, comfortable fury. The enigmas unfold on instruments that take on confidence and become inextricably friendly, without abandoning the motif of this song. As usual: Impeccable!

The second song is "Sorgmantel". It wins you over from the first 4 subsequent notes. Again, Holmgren takes the reins from the beginning with his enchanting concert flute and acoustically opens a new scenario (and this already tells us that the flute is indisputably the north of this album. Engdegard slowly approaches with his fascinating electric guitar to give Brand his cue with his unmistakable bass to form a section led by them. Truly these guys bring ineffable melodies every time they appear. Striking notes strung together, one after the other, breaking through any kind of distraction and grabbing the listener with windy but not friendly arms. This song is 3 minutes shorter than the previous one, and that seems to be compensated here with a bit more savagery, with a more frenetic and catchy structure. Again, the second half of the song is where the gunpowder is played. The 7/8 pops up every now and then to clean up the vulgar and sit the listener down in case they've rambled too much (there's no shortage of reasons with this music) and it works as a great resource in songs of this style where the energetic inevitably becomes sluggish.

Then we move on to "Snardom". Well, it's a bit complicated to describe, but the calmness that started the songs on side 1 and 2 has completely disappeared. The song is full of chaos before the first second is completed. Dissonant notes, quirky and fierce percussion and an untamed electric guitar coming in to reclaim territory. As the longest song on the album, the first time I listened to it I thought I would find a slow and patient pace, and it turned out to be the opposite (thank you Änglagård for being an ocean of surprises). This song in a sense reminds me of "The Gates of Delirium" for its martial traits and peaceful resolution. Midway through the song, cello, piano and flute come together to create possibly the most beautiful section of their entire discography. A warm, deep ambience where every note is a stepping stone to enlightenment. Honestly, listening to something of this calibre I think how blessed are those of us who know this music. I remember that in the book of their first album (Hybris, of course) a member had written something along the lines of "We seek to break out of musical standards and we don't stop until we do", and they have achieved this in each of their works with an archetypal hierarchy.

"Langtans Klocka" closes the album brilliantly. It's my favourite of the album. I could never imagine a better closer. The song begins with the flute and piano creating a beautifully detective-like balloon. The most accomplished acoustic on the album, residing in a layer that is held aloft by tangible and knocking instrumentation. Its rhythm is so fun that it seems to go faster than it actually does. Mellotron and percussive effects blend together for circus-like arrangements that strangely make way for a nostalgic-tinged? transition. It's hard for me to describe how I perceive the last few minutes, but you can be sure that any adjective comes close to flattery - they manage to bring epicness to a circus tune! The textures of this part are astonishing and worthy of standing up and applauding. Everything becomes dissonant and concludes in a funny impertinent xylophone.

I always like to remember that Änglagård is one of the VERY FEW bands that have almost entirely instrumental albums (this one is 100% instrumental) of a spectacular level and quietly sitting among the privileged positions. Right now Hamburger Concerto by Focus comes to mind, but none other. Hybris and Viljans Öga are masterpieces from beginning to end and never lose their touch. Here we may be talking about the best instrumental album in progressive rock, but that's for another topic.

Argentinfonico | 5/5 |

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