Vanhelgd – Relics of Sulphur Salvation (20 Buck Spin)

Tuesday, 29th April 2014
Rating: 8/10

As wisely stated in the accompanying promo sheet, there are a thousand death metal albums that will come out this year alone. Many of these will attempt to recreate the past, with that trendy old school revival and be worthy of a spin or two, and you’ll head for greener pastures. Thankfully, like the recent Morbus Chron, Vanhelgd have realized that maybe there are in fact too many fish in the sea and made an attempt to stand apart from the crowd.

Of course, the underlying presence of old school Swedish death metal rears its head all over Relics of Sulphur Salvation. The buzzsaw guitars are the most obvious feature, along with the tortured vocal roars and rasps. You may just get the wrong impression if you simply listen to “Dodens Maskatna Anlete,” the ripping lea-doff track, and move on.

What separates Vanhelgd from the vast majority that that they “get it” in terms of what it means to pay homage instead of plagiarizing the past. First off, the production is far above what the normal retro revivalists use. Not that you can’t still feel the crunch in the guitars, but things are notably more clear (yet not too modern either). Secondly, tracks like “Where All Flesh is Soil” have a more doomy approach at times. The varied pacing does help to distinguish the tracks from each other a bit. Lastly, their use of sinister melodies in each song is captivating, particularly on “May the Worms Have Mercy on My Flesh” (cool title, eh?) and the scathing “Cure Us From Life.”

While it may not differentiate as much as the afore-mentioned Morbus Chron, it’s truly the little things that count here. With the number of dime-a-dozen retro wannabes, it’s nice to see a band that can think outside the box a bit.

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