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Vanha : Melancholia

Accomplished and captivating melodic Death/Doom is the hallmark of Vanha's sophomore full-length.

'Melancholia' is the second full-length release of Swedish one-man band Vanha. The note that came with the download intimated that I'd be listening to 'six tracks of pure melancholic darkness' and although I think that's a tad excessive, I do find the album to be atmospheric and interesting.

Lyrically, Johansson focuses upon personal experiences in life so the raw passion that comes with the harsh vocals did not come as a surprise. This is clearly a very personal project for him, and it sounds like there's a lot more to come from the band, based once more on the notes. I am optimistic that any future releases will be just as engaging as this one and if they are, I'll certainly seek to obtain them because I did enjoy 'Melancholia' a lot. As is almost always the case nowadays, it's impossible for me to say that Vanha has produced unique tracks here. At the end of the day, Johansson has created relatively standard melodic Death/Doom tracks on 'Melancholia'. I don't see why a band should be marked down for such, though. As far as I am concerned, reviewing is about how well a band has done in creating the music and although it'd be nice to hear something new every single time, it's just not going to happen.

Based on the production, on how catchy the tracks are, how intense the vocals are, and the musical journey that each track takes you on, I'd say that Vanha has done well here. I especially liked the addition of strings to lend the music a touch of drama. Although generally played at slow, plodding pace, Vanha's use of strings and keys to adjust the pace of the music keeps things captivating for the listener.

I wouldn't hesitate in saying that 'Melancholia' is a decidedly emotional release. No, I don't use the term 'emotional' in a negative manner; I simply mean that each track feels like a personal journey through the soul, purely as a witness. The juxtaposition in each track (strings included) enhances the drama of each journey, and I find it very pleasant to be privy to such personal occurrences. I think that in itself is a measure of how well Johansson has done in his songwriting.

In terms of the experience, I would liken 'Melancholia' to releases by other 'emotional' Death/Doom bands like Novembers Doom, Saturnus, My Dying Bride, and maybe even Mourning Beloveth. Vanha isn't what I would call a copycat band, although they've definitely taken influences from the aforementioned (who hasn't?), but they manage to convey their musical messages in a similar vein to bands that have been around a lot longer than they have and I am a fan of that. There's a real maturity about Vanha's music that strikes a chord with me, especially the juxtaposition between harsh and soft vocals, as well as the guitar solos and strings sections.

In terms of negatives, I honestly don't have much to add. However, I think that's partially because I'm reviewing a download rather than a physical album. On a physical album, you can often get a feel for what the band wants to do, imbibe their lyrics, see what inspires them etc. but I've not been afforded that opportunity here so I have no idea if the physical copy has something negative to be mindful of or not. Musically speaking, though, this is a very enjoyable composition.

Bluntly put, I enjoyed this album a lot. The one word that resonated around my head whilst listening to it was 'accomplished' because that's how it comes across to me. No, it's not going to be something you've never heard before but if's a very well-executed, captivating, dramatic, emotional, and frankly enjoyable piece of melodic Death/Doom that fans of acts like Novembers Doom, Saturnus, My Dying Bride, Mourning Beloveth etc. should all be able to enjoy to some extent.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Road
2. Storm Of Grief
3. Starless Sleep
4. Your Heart In My Hands
5. Fade Away
6. The Sorrowful

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the Vanha bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-01-05 by Ian Morrissey
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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