Okay, buckle up and get comfortable, as this one’s a beast – there’s 80 minutes of material here, and it isn’t likely to appeal to those uninitiated in the ways of djent.
Featuring the drummer of Humanity’s Last Breath, Vildhjarta play djent-injected Meshuggah-influenced progressive metal, only with added bucketfuls of atmosphere and melody. Now, if the prospect of anything djent-y sounds rather generic and awful, then fear not; this is a band far more creative and inspired than the norm for the genre, and across the album they demonstrate their own well-developed personality to great effect.
The album is built around a mixture of heaviness, emotion, and atmosphere. Måsstaden Under Vatten is an album that’s less about individual songs, and more about the overall experience and flow of the whole. This is a thematic journey that Vildhjarta are taking the listener on, a comprehensive and well-considered one that requires attention and focus to truly appreciate all of its labyrinthine twists and turns. It’s an exceptional journey though, and well worth the time investment to undertake.
The heaviness that the band exhibit is a masterclass in restrained, precisely applied power. Their punishing grooves and staccato riffs are jagged and atypical, delivered with surgical technical skill and no small amount of passion. An album like this couldn’t just be about the brutality of it though; it needs something deeper, and the other two parts of Vildhjarta’s sound provide this very capably, in the form of the emotional and atmospheric content of the music. These are bountiful and strong and display a breadth of range that’s refreshing for something of this ilk. The album portrays different feelings and moods at various points, all of them affecting, and the majority of them dark and melancholic. Overall atmosphere and ambience are important factors in this lengthy album’s success.
Måsstaden Under Vatten is a great example of a band pushing the boundaries of heavy music in the name of immersive art.
Very highly recommended for any fan of challenging, non-standard heaviness.