Artist: Humanity’s Last Breath
Album Title: ‘Välde’
Label: Unique Leader Records
Date of Release: 12 February 2021
I feel like I have been misled a little regarding this particular release. I had never heard of Humanity’s Last Breath until a few weeks ago. However, their new album popped into my inbox and, seduced by the front cover art and the descriptor ‘black death’, I delved in.
As it transpires, ‘Välde’ is very much more of a deathcore band than a black death outfit. I understand why the descriptor was used, as Humanity’s Last Breath certainly add in elements of black metal and straight-up death, but for me, ‘deathcore’ remains the most accurate overall. And, whilst it may be incredibly popular for many, there remains a certain stigma around the word ‘core’. Or maybe it’s just me that has a certain preconception and distrust of anything with the word ‘core’ in it? Anyhow, I certainly wouldn’t have looked any further had I seen ‘deathcore’ next to ‘Välde’, and that may be the case for others too.
As it is, I took the album for a spin, and at first, I wasn’t repulsed. If anything, I was quietly impressed, and I have subsequently stuck with Humanity’s Last Breath enough to pen a review of it. Yes it features bass bombs and a few breakdowns here and there, but it is counteracted by some strong song writing, big grooves and occasional forays into slightly more melodic territory.
The headline has to be that, however excellent the music may be, this will rarely be the kind of thing that I listen to on a regular basis. It just isn’t what I’d reach for instinctively when unsure of what will scratch my music-listening itch. However, I like to think that this website has forced me to re-evaluate some of my prejudices and tastes, to the point where I can respect, enjoy, and be objective about, a wider sphere of metal than ever before.
And I go back to my earlier point, that I have rather liked the experience of listening to ‘Välde’, regardless of genre pigeonholes. Led by guitarist/producer Buster Odeholm of Vildjharta fame, and joined by vocalist Filip Danielsson, guitarist Calle Thomer, and drummer Klas Blomgren, it’s a massive, uncompromising, brutal affair, made all the more intense by the precision and technicality on display, not to mention the lashings of synth-created atmospheres that bathe the extremity. Indeed, some of the complexity calls to mind their Swedish compatriots, Meshuggah, whilst the bold synths give many of the compositions a sinister, dystopian feel. There’s a really dark, malevolent edge to much of the material.
Take ‘Earthless’ as a prime example. The sounds that emanate from within, behind and alongside the incredibly tight riffing and rhythms that stop-start, lurch, and writhe, are jarring, uncomfortable, and menacing. But the light and shade created within what is a crushing composition is something to be impressed about. As is the apocalyptic feel of ‘Descent’, thanks to a stirring mid-section that dials up the cinematic ambitions of the band, underlining those black metal credentials in the process.
Out of nowhere almost, ‘Spectre’ then opens up towards the end to deliver a strong melody, led by the introduction of cleaner vocals, in place of Danielsson’s normal savage, guttural bark. The symphonic elements shine through at this point and I immediately see a different side of Humanity’s Last Breath. Clearly, in spite of a preference towards brutality and extremity, there remains room for moments of clarity, although follow-up ‘Dehumanize’ does its best to expunge such thoughts, delivering possibly the fastest piece to date on the record. That said, the pace slows towards the end briefly and in creeps a subtle melody within the tumult.
I absolutely love the song ‘Tide’ from the mid-section onwards, which is all out cinematic splendour, segueing into a majestic closing segment where the vocals are fully clean, almost whispered, an ethereal glide over another rather epic, symphonic soundscape below. These are the moments, alongside the steady groove within tracks like ‘Väldet’ that ensured that I was never going to shelve this album, and would be returning to it enough to write a favourable review of it.
And so, in conclusion, I must admit to being sufficiently impressed by ‘Välde’, despite whatever genre tags you wish to apply to the music on this record. Humanity’s Last Breath have managed to create music that is very powerful, very technical, and incredibly brutal. It is well put together, nicely produced, and delivered with aplomb despite its complexity. For fans of deathcore, as well as modern-sounding extreme metal in general, this should most definitely be on your shopping list.
The Score of Much Metal: 83%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: