Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Friday, November 27, 2020

Review: Vhäldemar – Straight to Hell

Label: Fighter Records

Date: October 6th, 2020

I’m sure you all realize metal musicians are, among other things, just regular, living and breathing humans. We can agree that, just like the rest of us, they need a vacation, from time to time. From what I’ve heard, Bilbao is a nice city to visit. A lot of historical landmarks, Guggenheim Museum, but also it’s natural environment is something special. Especially the massive estuary sliding into Bay of Biscay. Extremely beautiful place to visit.

So, what actually happened is that hotel Vhäldemar had a couple of exquisite guests all arrive at the same time. Namely Joey DeMaio and Kai Hansen. Inevitably, where there’s a party there’s the bringer of vodka, Jens Johansson. And the three decided to hide behind five local guys and record some beautiful heavy metal music.

Nice scenario for a blockbuster movie, for sure. However, until it is created, we have a soundtrack called “Straight to Hell”. An incredible combination of heavy and power metal, from Basque Country. Vhäldemar is actually a twenty years old band, coming to you with their sixth full length record. The fact is that these guys are quite capable of fusing together the sharpness of German power metal, as produced by early Helloween and Gamma Ray with that Manowar trademarked glorious feeling of being a metalhead. And spice it up with north European sense of “speed of light” keyboard vs. guitar rock off. All the while creating amazing tracks responsible for goosebumps and absolute sense of pride for being part of a metal tribe. Catchy riffing, hard hitting rhythms and melodic solos. Fueled by those extremely memorable group choruses. Monumental work, if you ask me.

Deepening the impact of Vhäldemar’s new record is the production work, done by the guitarist himself. In his own studio, nonetheless. A top notch work, which brought forth the full force behind the album, while keeping the “curves” intact. Not a single piece of plastic was used to make this record as tough as it is. It spoils the mentioned environment, as well as any music record touched by it. Just pure molten metal, packed into a 36 minutes long cast. With a seal of approval from the man who actually worked with Manowar, Korpiklaani, Impaled Nazarene, Battle Beast and many more. Yes, the cover master Jan Yrlund is responsible for making “Straight to Hell” even grander.

Traditionalists, rejoice! You’ve got yourself a new favorite record. Power metal fans, are you still there? Yeah, your favorite genre lives on! Majestic performance! Shame on me for not hearing about Vhäldemar earlier.