tiamat_wildhoney1994 was an amazing year for all forms of metal music.  It was also a transitional year for one Johan Edlund, most famous as the guitarist/vocalist/founder of a little Swedish metal group called Tiamat.  1992’s Clouds was a breakthrough album for Edlund and his crew of death metal merry-men, but even with the album’s success, Edlund was not satisfied with the sound or results of that album.  So, in an interesting turn of events, he fired the entire band (save for bassist Johnny Hagel), hired session musicians, brought his love of Pink Floyd to the forefront, and created one of the most engaging, amorphous, and creative albums ever released with the Century Media label:  the still bewitching and beautifully crafted Wildhoney.

The sound of birds chirping and a guitar strumming a beautiful, almost music-box melody would set things in motion in the title track before bleeding into the first proper song, “Whatever That Hurts.”  A simple-yet-effective riff was made all the more powerful by then-session drummer (now permanent member) Lars Sköld’s thundering drums before submerging in a sea of pretty thick keyboards and Edlund’s softly spoken LSD-soaked ramblings before the thunder starts again. Tiamat were innovators at the time, as no one could bring such atmosphere into death metal and make it as convincing as they did here.  It was a feat that was difficult to replicate, even by Tiamat themselves.

Tiamat bandSpeaking of atmosphere, this album is saturated in it.  Waldemar Sorychta’s keyboards and production played a huge role in Wildhoney‘s success, between the glistening harpsichord-like melodies in “The Ar”, the main melody in “Gaia“, or giving the right feel to the super-trippy “Do You Dream of Me?”, his tasteful playing gave Wildhoney the perfect airy feel.  Session guitarist Magnus Sahlgren’s few leads were also expertly crafted and performed (his lead on “Whatever That Hurts” is still one of my favorites to this day), but the real reason for this album’s success was the absolute flow of the album.  Simply put, Wildhoney was absolutely seamless from beginning to end.  It was a rare album that functioned just as well as a few songs played here-and-there, but also as a collective, beautiful whole.

Tiamat would follow this up with 1997’s front-heavy-yet-inconsistent A Deeper Kind of Slumber with Edlund as its sole creative force before swimming in the lakes of boringly crafted goth rock.  However, Wildhoney would place Tiamat as one of the creators of dark metal (shared with the likes of other adventurous-at-the-time acts such as MoonspellThe Gathering, and Samael, all of whom were labelmates of theirs).  To this day, Wildhoney gets played heavily in my household twenty years later.  If you want to truly experience an amazing, beautiful album while your one-eyed’s eye requires twinkling and gazing, you can’t go wrong with this album.

Editor’s Note: Steel Druhm concurs wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed above. Wildhoney is one of those special, magical albums that becomes an integral part of your life’s soundtrack. While I never quite understood the pull this album has, it’s real and it’s magnetic.

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  • Dan

    Maybe the best album ever. I still can’t explain how it blows my mind, after 20 years…

    • It certainly has a mysterious power to it, no doubt about that.

  • Jason Cofer

    Bravo! I’m so olde school Tiamat that I got “Lady Temptress” played on college radio in Alabama in 92 lol. I’m still a big Tiamat fan to this day, but there’s something intoxicating about this album in particular. Always puts me in a great mood even though that may not have been Johan’s intent lol

    • Olde school indeed! Much respect.

    • doom-erik

      Lady Temptress! One of the best and catchiest tunes the band ever wrote.

  • Stefano Kevin Prince Vitali

    It is really as good as the review makes it sound!

    • basenjibrian

      nah. the writer and commenters are all in thrall to itunes and the record label. they are trying to trick you into spending your hard earned cash. i mean, steel druhm personally gets 9.9 cents per purchase he steers to them! lol. just kidding.

  • Pedro Morini Mietto

    I find this to be the coolest column you have on this blog!

  • doom-erik

    One of the best albums that came out in the 90s. Tiamat managed to release three magnificent albums between 1991 and 1994 (Astral Sleep, Clouds and Wildhoney). Impressive!

  • eloli

    This is my favourite album, ever. Great review.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    90s Scandinavian metal never fails to captivate me. Sure I wasn’t alive when this came out (2 years too late!) but I love finding those albums. Albums from bands like Sentenced, Moonspell, Darkseed, Amorphis, early In Flames and At the Gates, Tiamat, etc. – such brilliant stuff!
    To be fair, I did discover many of them through those Nuclear Blast video collections, but I love metal from that era nevertheless.

    • I love me some Darkseed.

    • Ricardo P

      Moonspell are Portuguese /pedantic

      • Refined-Iron Cranium

        … Well that was embarrassing. Guess I should have double checked before I made that comment.

        • Wilhelm

          We get the drift.

    • DrChocolate

      That was all my early introduction to metal as well. I love that stuff. The Century Media Identity series were huge windows in metal for me. Sentenced still gets regular spins from me. That is a band I truly miss.

  • Mike Eckman

    Oh man, I love this album. I discovered Tiamat during my first “wave” of new metal discovery circa 1996. I dont even remember why I bought this album, but I am glad I did. To this very day, I do not look at overfilled toothpaste tubes the same way! :)

  • DrChocolate

    Spot on with this post. This blew my head back when I discovered it as a high schooler in 94. It was so far ahead of it’s time but also a distinct product of it’s time. When the drums drop out of the intro to Whatever That Hurts I still get chills. This is a transporting, special record. I still don’t know of any album that sounds like it. Truly one of a kind.

    • Grymm

      I, too, was a sophomore in high school when this came out.

      I’ll shut up now. :-P

    • Dan

      I wasn’t even in highschool when this came out. And I still have the pirate audio tape which I bought back in 94. Back then you couldn’t get an original tape , not to mention a cd in my country. Oh, the memories:)

  • One of the best concerts I’ve seen was a Tiamat/Moonspell double header back when they were promoting Amanethes. Moonspell took the closing slot but it really felt hard for them to come after a pretty much perfect performance. Good times.

    Edit: Back then I was more partial in my tastes to Moonspell, that night changed my opinion.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great record and review,
    Something I’ve always thought that gets overlooked with this record is that asides from the Floyd references he must have been influenced by the late 70s and 80s post punk.
    If you love the ‘atmosphere’ or production of this record I heartily recommend the exemplar oeuvre of Dead Can Dance.
    A ‘Pocket Sized Sun’ could easily be a track from ‘Real Life’ or ‘Secondhand Daylight’ by Magazine.

    They’re not remotely metal, but If you love Wildhoney I would encourage for interest sake to check those records/bands out.

    • Dead Can Dance is one of my favorite non metal bands. Lisa Gerrard’s voice should be declared a world cultural treasure.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        To me the break down in ‘The Ar’ is very reminiscent of ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’.
        Any band that can seem to be simultaneously drawing from Iron Maiden and Dead Can Dance gets my respect!

        • Hadn’t really made that connection, nice catch!

  • Never was into Tiamat as a wee lad – checked this cd out and boy is it good. OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!!!!!

  • Tiamat, Moonspell, Amorphis and Darkseed are some of my favorite bands of all time and Wildhoney stands out as the best record released amongst them all and could very well be the best record of the 90s. I am partial to their entire catalog as each record is journey that only Johan can take us on, truly one of the most unique frontman in metal. This album literally was the record that has impacted my life into getting into extreme metal. Before Wildhoney it was just thrash and this album opened up many doors for me. Excellent review and great choice for the article.

  • euthanatos

    This is a great album.. “with my solar knife I split the sky”. I’m not one to yearn for the good old days where bands hadn’t ‘sold out’, but, man, that Tiamat was awesome.

    • They still are. They have evolved in their own way, without sticking to any genre, like true musicians, which needs guts.

  • Wilhelm

    Great review, Wildhoney is one of my favorite albums even though it’s not very long (and “A pocket sized sun” is a sleepy closer) but I disagree with A Deeper Kind Of Slumber being inconsistent…it’s a masterpiece.

    • Slumber was as great as wildhoney. Fans found it hard to accept considering major change in sound.

      • Y.Whateley

        I agree completely – A Deeper Kind of Slumber was indeed as superb as Wildhoney.

        I found Clouds to be one of the more uneven of their first half-dozen albums, but I even have a soft spot for that one (it pairs up nicely with Cemetary’s Godless Beauty for uneven but enjoyable Sweedish doom); The Astral Sleep was excellent ’90s Swedish death/black metal and helped give some hints of what would come with the later Wildhoney and Slumber. (Their really early stuff, basically their Treblinka era, before they began finding their own voice with The Astral Sleep, is really only for deathcrushers and completists; Edlund and company weren’t doing anything here that Hellhammer hadn’t pioneered with a little more charisma a few years earlier.)

        Skeleton Skeletron began to see the real hit-or-miss era for Tiamat (and the short-lived but worthy alter-ego of “the Band”/Edlund, Lucyfire). Still, I don’t think Tiamat ever did a bad album, Edlund just never hit the right-albums-at-the-right-time heights of Wildhoney, Slumber, or even The Astral Sleep again. There’s some worthy heavy goth-rock, psychedelica, and metal to be found on any of these later albums (especially for fans of the likes of Fields of the Nephilim, Sisters of Mercy, and Joy Division), but they require a little more patience and work to find the gems hidden on them.

        Tiamat are still putting on a heck of a good live show, too – I regret that I missed them in Baltimore earlier this year (I bought the tickets, but a last-minute emergency at work required me to be in an entirely different country that week). What I saw of that Baltimore show on YouTube looked fantastic, however – Edlund and the gang look like they’re perfectly capable of producing some fine new music and great concerts well into the future.

  • sathriel

    Ah, “Wildhoney” “Wolfheart” “Ceremony of Opposities” and The Gathering’s self-titled, those were the days. Even though many of their follow ups were less than stellar those albums are still great to this day.

  • a little Swedish metal group called Tiamat ?
    You must be an Ignoramus fool to believe that.

    • What’s with the name calling? We’re praising them in this piece. Try reading more carefully and keep the name calling to yourself.

      • Ok. Sorry about name calling, as you call it. You are praising them and at the same time insulting them in many ways too. Say you did not like their later work, don’t say it’s not good.

        • The author didn’t like the band’s later material as much, so sue us. We will give our opinions and if you can’t deal it with, don’t read the reviews.

  • Lakes of boringly crafted goth rock?
    How about respecting music in it’s general form?
    I would agree with you if they had made shitty music later, but they took goth rock to a better place with their style. Just coz they changed their style, it doesn’t make them boring.

  • It was a feat that was difficult to replicate, even by Tiamat themselves.

    You should know that Tiamat never tried to replicate any of their previous works. Moreover, you can never replicate something that is in you.