Vanhelga – Höst (Art of Propaganda)

Sunday, 7th July 2013
Rating: 8/10

A two-man outfit comprised of multi-instrumentalist 145188 and former Lifelover vocalist 1853, Vanhelga plays a brand of suicidal/depressive metal that wretches the soul much like the aforementioned Lifelover, and Bethlehem at their most oppressive. Obscure underground metal band references aside (there was a time when Bethlehem were somewhat popular, however), the band’s sophomore Höst album capably fills a very large space vacated by Lifelover in the suicidal black metal department.

The riff ideas from 145188 are woven in melancholy, with fuzzy and buzzing chord ideas that clank off the black metal infrastructure, but are played at a slower pace. Therefore, it doesn’t take much for the sullen jangle of “Lugn” to make things happen – it’s a downright miserable instrumental, with accompanying keyboard strokes that only heighten the mood. The more frenetic “Desperation” allows 1853 to test the limits of his rabid vocal style, where upon he shrieks, moans, and cries all in one fell swoop. Further trips down the road of bleakness come in the form of “Overklighet” and “Sorg,” which is like an indie rock track gone down the road of no return.

A late-2012 release, Höst is a real find in the dark metal spectrum. The aesthetics and overall feel go beyond that of usually is presented in Goth metal, and even in some forms of black metal, so the textures might feel a little unsavory to some. But when broken down, Höst is some severe stuff.

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