Vildhjarta – Masstaden (Century Media Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Djent has become such a formidable commodity that it takes seven Swedes to play it, apparently. Funny, ’cause a band Blistering reviewed earlier in the year (Deadfall) only needed two to pull it off, but hey, the more the merrier, right? Vildhjarta (who do in fact, have seven members) are the latest entry into the “Let’s see how fast we can run djent into the ground”game, and on their Masstaden debut full-length, the Swedes are able to catch lightening in the bottle at just the right time. In two years, this will be played-out anyway.

Based on the band’s concept of an isolated town, Masstaden takes on a much darker form than what we’re used to hearing from djent bands, as in there’s less emphasis on technicality, and more on finding odd rhythms and haunting atmospheres, as heard on opener “Shadow.” And because this is a concept album, the Swedes are able to weave electronics and interludes into the album’s flow, thus avoiding one big ball of polyrhythms and difficult time signatures.

Invariably, Vildhjarta does tons of bumping and grinding with Nothing-era Meshuggah, keeping the tempos down, the riffs murky and jerky, and the vocals in full spit-mode. Highlights include the warping “Eternal Golden Monk,” “Traces,” and album standout “When No One Walks With You,” which benefits from the band’s coy use of dark soundscapes. A rare melody and uptick in tempo happens every so often, as on “All These Feelings” and the bouncy “Deceit,” but for the most part, Vildhjarta seems content with toying too much extremity, which in turn, suits the album’s course just fine.

Chances are, Blistering and the rest of our metal journalism friends will be tired of djent and bands like Vildhjarta by next summer (if we aren’t, we’ll buy everyone a box of Tomato Basil Wheat Thins). In the interim, Vildhjarta’s warped sense of sound, punchy dymanics, and unique aura separatesMasstaden from a rapidly-swelling pack. Timing sure is everything, isn’t it?

(PS: The Wheat Thins offer is binding)

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