Vanhelga – Fredagsmys (Osmose)

Tuesday, 26th June 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

Osmose can now lay claim to having two of the year’s best in suicidal black metal: Totalselfhatred’s Solitude and now Vanghelga’s Fredagsmys. Both albums are entities unto themselves, but the proliferation of those inviting, mournful melodies and depressive soundscapes found between the two LPs are a bit too much to resist. In the case of Vanhelga, the Swedes appear to have capitalized upon 2016’s thoroughly-miserable Ode and Elegy with something just as miserable and better yet, more experimental with Fredagsmys, their fifth album to date.

Residing in the (negative) space that was largely kicked off by Italy’s Forgotten Tomb, Vanhelga’s sound is often overlapped with sideways BM riffing and a litany of melodies. The best example would be album highlight “Psykotisk självinsikt,” which, aside from its cascading melodic guitar lines and drab acoustic guitars, also features some whistling in the chorus. Placed somewhat back in the mix, these “whistles” are hardly cheery, so fret not. Rather, they simply add to the atmosphere of what best could be described as similar to sitting on a park bench on a dreary afternoon with leaves scattered about. (Does that help?)

“Ensam mot alla” follows suit, finding the Swedes engaged in a tug-of-war between shoegaze and black metal, which, as we have come to learn, are now proper bedfellows. The steady diet of black metal sonics is what keeps Fredagsmys in check, offering a steady balance between agony and introspection. (Surely you can guess where the agony comes in.) Vanhelga, to their infinite credit, successfully straddle the line between both, all the while, never losing their flair (if you will) for the depressingly dramatic and heartsick. Fredagsmys cuts right to the core…and it feels good.

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