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Vildhjarta - Måsstaden CD (album) cover

MÅSSTADEN

Vildhjarta

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.72 | 8 ratings

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TheWatcho
3 stars Måsstaden - 3/5 stars

The sound of being trapped inside a rotting tree, and being swallowed by night's darkness, that is what this album gave me in a metaphoric way.

Vildhjarta, Swedish for "wild heart", it's a swedish band made up by three guitarists (Bergström, Thomer and Åkerström) that will show you straightforward highly complex dissonant 'chuggy' riffing, a (unnecessary) pair of vocalists (Ädel and Bladin), and the rhytmic force of their bassist (Nyberg) and their drummer (Lindkvist).

I crossed paths with this band a long time ago, when searching through the net... I found their demo 'Omnislash', and I was quite surprised to hear how good their instrumental work was. The song 'Shiver', was particularly good, it reminded me of some kind of a weird mix between Opeth and Meshuggah (Swedish eh?), but what we are going to find in 'Måsstaden' has way more grind-dense sounding stuff.

And here we are, facing the almighty 'Måsstaden', the full-length conceptual debut from this seven-piece band.

You may think this band it's just "another Meshuggah rip-off", while, I would agree that these guys are not afraid of showing how much they love 'Meshuggah's' style, they still have a sound of their own, far more emotional than Meshuggah's, and more atmospheric as well.

Vildhjarta's sound, in my listening experience and what I was able to digest, could be described as: Tech Death Metal, Post-Thrash (ok, let's call it "Groove"), modern -core elements (Deathcore, Metalcore, etc...), lot of ambient stuff, and the evident Meshuggah influence, all thrown inside a mixer, you probably would get something very similar to Vildhjarta. But to make things simple, to me Vildhjarta is simply a "Extreme Prog Metal" band (Yeah, it's still vague).

Leaving aside what I feel about the band's sound, these guys have already defined themselves. "Ambidjent", this is how Vildhjarta calls the sound which permeate their mechanical songs, full of a psychotic atmosphere, submerged in a dark colored ocean, and textured with much feeling, a feeling that constantly gives the sensation of being pursued, and being in a dingy place.

Along with the mood these guys are capable to give to the listeners, the dynamic riff and rhytmic work is incredible. At first, I could not digest this album at all. When listening to a couple of songs, I felt it was the typical generic 'Meshuggah' offspring, with semi-acoustic moments and complex polyrhythmic riff thrown in the mix, but after more listens I was meeting with an album full of haunting atmospheres, with ridiculously dissonant syncopated riffs (beyond the standard, really, despite all the times I've heard the album, I still can not follow most of the riff's rhythm), arrangements that lead too far to give the feeling of confusion over the songs, but nevertheless, there is naturality in how the songs flow, making it feel connected.

The production is quite good... but the bass is almost inaudible. I think if the production was more clear, or if the bass had a more distanced role than simply playing the rhythm section an octave lower than the guitars, it could play a greater role within the scope of the band in its effort to make something brutal and atmospheric. Nevertheless, production meets and it was able to give you the dark angsty mood these guys had been searching for (I think). If I were to nitpick... I don't like the fact that there are two vocalists, I don't know if this is because they couldn't find a vocalist capable of pulling off shriek, growl and clean vocals, or because any other reason... I really don't know why would they need two vocalists, they even sound the same while growling, so it's more pointless.

I'll stop with nitpicking, and I'm going to talk about the important thing in 'Måsstaden'; the songs. There is a concept thrown in the lyrics, and while I listened to the songs while reading the lyrics, I could not grasp everything. The lyrics are a depressing, metaphysical trip into the town of Måsstaden. They're good, but they aren't the reason of why this album is good. The album is very linear sounding, song after song, they will get more predictable, one after another, since in many songs, there may be repeated riffs thrown in (yeah, in different songs, whether this has to do with the album concept or not, I'm not quite sure), Still, this does not apply to certain songs, which I feel, are the highlights from 'Måsstaden'. The highlights here definitely are: 'Traces' (easily the best song in the album), 'Eternal Golden Monk', 'The Lone Deranger'. 'Deceit' is also a great song, but I prefer the demo version... they should've left it as an Instrumental. Overall, every song it's a good one, but they could get too predictable (formulaic) if you're listening to the whole album.

'Måsstaden' its an entertaining listening experience, and one of it's strong points it's the fact that the main ambition of these guys it's not only about being technical, it's also about being atmospheric and being able to give "moods" (demencial moods) with complex polyrhytmic riffing. While it's not a definite classic within the Extreme Tech/Prog Metal genre, it still is a highly enjoyable album, although, It may only appeal to those who like the "djent" scene and to those who enjoy ridiculous technical riffing. It's their debut, so it's expectable that they will come with a more polished work after 'Måsstaden'.

So, it's a 3 out of 5 stars.

TheWatcho | 3/5 |

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