Popularity usually breeds failure and the archetypal and truly notable albums are not as many in this years as they were in the early 90’s. However this year, Swedish band, Grá released this distinguished album titled “Väsen”.
Heljarmadr, the current vocalist of Dark Funeral, founded the band Grá ten years ago. About this new album I could say there is more room to breathe, more atmosphere and even some slight references to a band like Burzum once in a while. In the matter of production, the album received the ideal sound for the presented music on it. All instruments and details in the songs remain clear and defined, yet the whole never loses its grim and raw vibe.
This album offers everything we have come to expect, with some added bonuses. Speed is a large part of the music; the unrelenting pace of the album is in-keeping with the Grá style. Drummer Dimman contributes with tones of aggressiveness through the ever-present blastbeats, whilst maintaining a highly technical approach and a really rough sound.
The riffing, although almost always fast, is diverse with a good mixture of dissonant tremolo riffs, catchy rhythmic parts as well as some death and thrash metal sections and of course some slower atmospheric spine tingling areas.
On the first track ,“Till Sörjerskorna”, guitars and bass blend in seamlessly with the atmosphere, providing the trademark black metal riffs for the most part.
“King Of Decay” is the second track of the album. It is entirely composed by Heljarmadr. It debutes with aggressive tones and then surround us with evil atmosphere, juxtaposed by strange and beautiful melody.
“Hveðrungs Mær” starts with a piano part then turns into a galloping ride that has really fantastic accent leads, adding to the already frantic pace of the album.
The album’s first revealed track, “Krig” is still as effective as it was upon first listen. The repetitive note riff that dominates the song makes it easily remembered and memorable. The rhythm of the song is highly addictive and these riffs will randomly pop in your head.
“Gjallarhorn” has a dark atmospheric debut accompanied by acoustic guitar.
“Dead Old Eyes” is still coming up with loads of catchy riffs. The disciplined, ponderous rhythm reflects the scenes of an inner struggle. Heljarmadr`s voice is highlighted on this song; sometimes gets ghostly notes. Not only due to the perfect congruence between the atmosphere and the musical implementation, this tune is my personal favorite on “Väsen “.
The last two songs of the album, ” The Devil’s Tribe” and the title track “Väsen” close the album in a majestic manner putting the focus on grandeur and velocity at the same time. With a length of more than seven minutes, the last song could be seen as a monument of killing riffs which were combined with a lively and powerful rhythm section.
Similar to the drumwork of Dimman, Heljarmadr’s vocals are utterly breathtaking and completely barbarous throughout the album duration.
Artwork was done by Axel Turvenius, the art director of Machine Games, recently known for the award-winning video game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and the band logo is made by talented Romanian artist Luciana Nedelea.
I really don’t have much to say about this album other than praises, and that’s is a solid Grá album. One of the best things about “Väsen“ is that it contains many more atmospheric parts, which give the music deeper feeling and more diversity. I think this album sums up what Heljarmadr said a while ago: “It is Swedish black metal the way it should be done. Not as followers but leaders, walking our own path.”