Much in the way that the first wave of Swedish Death Metal bands began to wildly diverge stylistically by the time of their 2nd and 3rd LPs, so too has the current crop of Swedish bands, polarizing critics and fans alike. Fortunately some bands simply proceed logically forward, advancing their sound without abandoning what made them appealing to begin with. Vanhelgd stands towering among those few with their crushing third LP Relics Of Sulphur Salvation.
Having released two well received LPs via the Nuclear War Now label, including 2011’s outstanding and underrated Church Of Death LP, on Relics Of Sulphur Salvation the band has taken a big leap in production quality having constructed eight complex and memorable songs that strike with an urgent ferocity not seen in some other “boundary-pushing” or “progressive” Death Metal of recent months. This is Death Metal from the guts, played with relentless and nuanced savagery. Vanhelgd’s natural skill for crafting monumental Death Metal songs suggests early At The Gates, Entombed and even elements of My Dying Bride. Songs like opener “Dödens Maskätna Anlete” and “Where All Flesh Is Soil” hit like a hammer to the skull; immediate, without mercy and not soon forgotten. The terrifyingly raw mutilated vocals of Mattias Frisk as vital an “instrument” as the similarly voiced Tompa Lindberg and Martin Van Drunen.
A thousand records will be released this year for the average Death Metal fan. Only a handful will warrant more than a spin or two and even less will make it off the shelf and onto the turntable after a year or more. Relics Of Sulphur Salvation is that record. A striking new precedent for Real Death Metal in 2014.