Source: The Sludgelord
If there’s anything more menacing than the sight of a longboat full of bloodthirsty Swedish Vikings, it’s the sound of three bloodthirsty Swedish death metallers. We’re currently experiencing an era in extreme music where the almighty riff is taking a backseat to dense, sonic atmosphere, and that is never more apparent than in the fresh Death Metal being peddled from all four corners of the globe. Where coherency and orthodoxy fail to push certain boundaries and can no longer hold the attention of fans and musicians endlessly searching for a stronger dose, the realm of ambiance and atmosphere is as deserving of further experimentation as anything. The Swedish Death Metal bands of old knew this long ago, and the tradition is being carried on by the aptly named Heavydeath.
Heavydeath have been incredibly prolific with their releases since 2014 and the long slew of demo tapes speak for themselves, all of which seem to act as a kind of countdown to this, their first full-length, Eternal Sleepwalker. Recorded in the summer of 2014, there is a certain impression that this record, as well as everything that lead up to it, has been planned and meticulously executed to the band’s liking. You only have to look briefly at what they’ve done in their short time as a band to see what kind of work ethic is at hand, and listening to Eternal Sleepwalker is evidence enough of their devotion to this dark, crypt-dwelling sound. This is a record that is every bit as somnambulant as its title suggests.
Each track melts and solidifies into the next with arches that go mostly unnoticed, just as time and place hold little effect in dreams and nightmares. “Ascending” kicks in like a hypnotic sedative, sluggish guitars moan over driving, but not overly enthusiastic, bass and drums, before giving way to “Road to the Fire”, a nightmarish and weary charge that exemplifies Nicklas Rudolfsson’s truly haunting vocal style. “Bow Down” twitches to life as the album begins to wake up, to a degree, a fact made even more apparent when “Eat the Sun” arrives on the scene surprisingly with something of a more traditional driving crunch to it. The album’s title track halts the speed and brings us back to a kind of comatose Thrash sound that stomps and stumbles in drunken anger which leads us to the appropriately titled “Heavy as Death” that bogs down even further to a slow, hammering discharge that evokes all the best of Celtic Frost. Eternal Sleepwalker comes to a close with psychotropic booms and echoes, titled “Beyond the Riphean Mountains”, and its feedback swept gloom acts as a kind of end credits to the funerary rite.
As stated previously, there seems to have been a lot of work put into Eternal Sleepwalker in order to make it quite literally sound like a nightmare. It’s not in the sounds, but in how the sounds are born and how they die in the wall of sound. Notes materialize and disappear in spectral fashion throughout and this compliments Rudolfsson’s gaping and horrific vocal delivery, and this marriage not only proudly represents the Swedish Death Metal sound, but actually takes it to different places. It’s a menacing piece of work that will be met with arms wide open by those with a taste for Death and Doom, but would certainly prove too dense for a first-time listener.
Written by Liam Doyle