In the midst of all the Swedeath revival bands, comes a death metal band from Sweden who doesn't play in the traditional style of the old masters such as Dismember or Unleashed. While the Swedish death metal tends to be my favorite kind, I have absolutely no problems with Vanhelgd playing a more American style, infused with undeniable Asphyx and Bolt Thrower influences.
If I told you that the vocalist on this record was Martin Van Drunen and you didn't look it up, you would probably believe me. The vocals sound near identical to the death metal legend, but there are two different vocalists here and it's pretty clear on tracks like "The Final Storm" and "Alone With the Dead." The vocals on these songs in particular are downright evil. They're almost on the verge of being black metal vocals, but it suits the music perfectly and gives it an even darker edge.
"Church of Death" is pretty varied when it comes to the riffs and other guitar work. There is a lot of tremolo riffing that is backed by blast beats and extremely fast paced drumming, and there are also slower and heavier tremolo riffs found throughout this album. The tremolo bursts on the song "Total Apokalyps" are faster than Morbid Saint on PCP, and it suits the lyrical content brilliantly. It should also come as no surprise that this is probably the most savage song on the album. Some of the death metal styled tremolo parts are a little different though. The passages on the song "Mansklighetens Finala Ruin" have a melodic-ish twist to them and give the overall feel a more unique atmosphere than the rest of the tracks. This album also has it's fair share of heavy midpaced riffs that reek of Bolt Thrower on "Realm of Chaos."
Another highlight of the guitars on this record, are the melodies that can be found on almost every track. This isn't your typical lame Gothenburg or metalcore melody though, but the dark and sinister kind that sends chills down your spine. The title track of this album consists of mostly melodies that invoke a doomy feel, similar to Autopsy on "Mental Funeral." The closing song on "Church of Death," "Alone With the Dead" also has some great use of these dark melodies. Not only do these melodic moments make the song sound more evil, but the track comes off as an epic one.
Vanhelgd definitely stands out in today's death metal scene with their brand of dark and twisted metal. Every song holds its own and stands out, but at the same time retains a core sound that lets the listener know it's a Vanhelgd song. "Church of Death" should rank high on your albums to get list if you haven't heard this already, it's varied and breathes a breath of fresh air to the Sweden death metal scene that is flooded with sameness.
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"Nec Spe, Nec Metu"
"Church of Death"
4.5/5 or 90%.