I was first desecrated by Vanhelga about a year ago courtesy of their second full length album Höst. What really appealed to me was that their sound helped make the void created by the death of Jonas Bergqvist from Lifelover somewhat breathe again. That band had one hell of a unique style but partly due to vocalist Johan Gabrielson being in Vanhelga and a lot of the musical nuances seeping over with him there was a real sense of familiarity that I never expected to hear again within their style.
Sommar although classed as an EP has over 30 minutes of play time on it so there’s plenty to get a fix on here. The first thing I noted as the shrill guitar tone of ‘Aftermath’ practically screeches in is that it is loud. The production here is a bit on the overbearing side with everything pushed up to the max. It made an odd first couple of listens although after that I guess I got more used to it. Whether this was accidental which I can’t honestly see or done on purpose is something I am not privy too but be prepared for this, it’s a little disconcerting. Once this is addressed and the air is filled by clean miserable tones alongside rabid demonic rasps, this is instantly identifiable. A piano is added to make this all the more doomed and dismal and the guitars strum like jangling razor wire cutting perfectly away and slashing for veins. Moments of anger burst forth and there is plenty of violence to be found here. Any air of fragility though is somewhat obtusely lost by that harsh production job. ‘Another Side Of Me’ really does have schizophrenic tendencies as a folk etched jaunty musical refrain sounding like a 70’s children TV theme is suddenly joined by vocals which really do sound like they have escaped from bedlam. The paradox is again rather unsettling especially as clean vocals with an almost angelic hymnal feel are also put in the mix. It’s like an exorcism gone very wrong. Then doing nothing normally they have the title track being a short instrumental piece, still it’s a powerful one merging some meandering guitar work with moments of muscle flexing rigour.
Spoken word parts form the backbone of ‘Välkommen In’ and also rapid talking and jangling guitar parts which have me thinking everything is getting too loud. Is that a train I hear, is this the confusion and conglomeration of urban post-modern living decaying the mind? Indie, DSBM, post punk all merge in a head long clash as Vid Skymningens Gräns has those vocals taking on a maddening clamour. They are in natural language but the way they are cleanly hollered I can almost imagine them shouting “I’m as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” I could be completely off the mark here but that’s what they are saying to me. I guess the music and the way the vocals are delivered are speaking to me even if it is in an alien language and there is no way even a translation tool seems able to grapple with ‘Levande Begravd I Pffitvingad Fffingenskap (8mmcl)’
Ultimately this is an EP that is emotionally effecting and it is one that despite some negativity over that damn odd production is not without both flair and charm. It certainly is not music for everyone, in fact I could even say you are going to have to be somewhat mad to enjoy it and embrace its self-destructive nature.
(7/10 Pete Woods)