Hello, Friend. Are you still feeling sad because the latest Behemoth didn’t quite tickle your fancy? Are you experiencing anxiety and depression because you’re worried that your occult-themed music isn’t truly glorifying the Evil One?1 Are you craving some sinister blackened death metal with a heaping helping of thrash, Crowleyan lyrics, and some tasteful symphonic accompaniment? Then ask your Angry Metal Preferred Network Dr. if Wachenfeldt is right for you. Its proprietary blend of the aforementioned genres is specifically formulated to blacken your soul and to ensure that you’ve never feldt better!
The Interpreter is the debut full-length2 from the eponymous band named for Sweden’s Thomas von Wachenfeldt. His musical background is more than impressive, possessing a PhD in Music and working as both a researcher in Musicology and associate professor of music at Umeå University. He’s a renowned violinist and has released several classical and folk albums under his full name.3 His metal cred is established with his involvement in Wombbath as guitarist and vocalist, as well as arranging the symphonic elements and playing bass on Entombed‘s live version of Clandestine. Needless to say, the man’s resumé is killer, but does any of this translate into metallic success on Wachenfeldt‘s maiden voyage?
Fuck yeah it does. This is hands down one of the best albums I’ve heard in years. Wachenfeldt plays all of the instruments save the drums that are contributed by Jon Skäre and guitar leads which are performed by Martin Björkland. “Spirits of the Dead” kicks things off with a short key intro and a terrifying screech on Thomas’ violin before a series of chugging riffs leads into some gnarly thrash. Wachenfeldt also performs vocal duties, using a monstrous death roar to crush the verses while his keys add a subtle symphonic backdrop. Björkland adds a beautifully melodic solo before the song thrashes itself to closure, leaving me thinking that there’s no way any of the other tracks will be able to live up to the opener. I think wrong.
There are eleven tracks here with one being a perfectly placed interlude consisting of violin played over an orchestral arrangement. Any of the other ten could be the best track here. It could be the title track with its blackened death intro and pure symphonic black metal passages, “Athor and Asar” with its seriously grooving riffs, or “Colophon” with its modern Testament sound and an abyssal vocal delivery that had me raising invisible oranges and lip-syncing on each listen. It could be the slow-churning “Litany to Satan” with its creepy spoken word parts and blazing symphonic section, or it could be “The Ladder” which despite some black and death elements, I have no problem naming the most ferocious thrash song I’ve heard in years. Speaking of thrash, the band hits a cover of Slayer‘s “Necrophiliac” out of the park to close out the album. But if forced to pick a favorite, it would be “Ut” which starts with a bass solo that would make Joey DeMaio hard, launches into furious death/thrash, slows things down for spoken word verses over drums and bass, moves into a blackened crescendo chorus, proceeds to thrash its brains out, then finishes with some absolutely killer symphonic black/thrash. On paper this may sound like a mess, but it’s the best song I’ve heard all year.
All three musicians are absolute masters, but obviously Wachenfeldt takes the MVP award. His vocals, instrumental performance, and songwriting prowess is mind-blowing. He’s obviously talented beyond anything most people can imagine, but like Michael Romeo, he doesn’t allow his virtuosity to overshadow the primary purpose of music: creating great songs. The production is beautifully modern, with a guitar tone to die for and a rumbling bass presence that can be feldt at all times. I literally have no complaints about the album. Even the 63-minute runtime is not an issue, as each time The Interpreter ends, I must replay it.
I realize I’m fanboying pretty hard here, but this album is truly all killer from note one. The band makes this complex music seem so simple, makes this long album with long songs seem so much shorter, and creates an oppressive mixture of heft and melody that can only be matched in my mind by Sulphur Aeon‘s recent output. We’ve got a lot of 2019 left to go, but Wachenfeldt have just thrown down the metal gauntlet.
- The band didn’t want to take any chances on this front, including both a “Litany to Satan” and a “Hymn to Lucifer.” ↩
- The album seems to have had some form of release in 2017, but the promo mentions problems that forced its true release to be delayed until now. This version also includes two new tracks. ↩
- I checked some of these out, and they’re fantastic and worth a listen. ↩