If there is one golden rule to stick to when writing reviews, hyperbole should be avoided at all costs. However, it’s hard to avoid hyperbole when talking about the Swedish deathcore band Humanity’s Last Breath. This is mostly because they are undoubtedly one of the heaviest bands on the planet right now, in the company of bands like Black Tongue and Vildhjarta. The latter makes sense given the band’s only consistent member is Buster Odeholm, who also plays drums in Vildhjarta.
Humanity’s Last Breath’s debut album was a pretty impressive deathcore release, featuring a sound similar to Vildhjarta but with much more of an emphasis on the heaviness and pummelling breakdowns as opposed to the atmosphere and progressive tendencies of Vildhjarta. In spite of this, it was pretty one-dimensional, and the band’s follow-up EP Detestor did little in evolving the band’s sound, taking on an even slower more downtempo style. Thankfully, the following album Abyssal started to feel like Humanity’s Last Breath were progressing musically, thanks to the more varied styles present and even some more melodic passages thrown in here and there for good measure.
Fast forward to 2021 and Humanity’s Last Breath are back with a third album, entitled Välde, or Empire in Swedish. The most prominent part of this album is that it is noticeably darker than anything the band has done before, with more of an emphasis on atmosphere than ever before. Bearing in mind that the band’s previous work wasn’t exactly easy listening material to begin with, it’s safe to say that Välde is one dark and twisted ride as a result. The first two tracks, 'Dödsdans' and 'Glutton', both help establish the sound of this album, with the former being a short intro, complete with blast beats and sustained droning downtuned guitars. 'Glutton' starts out far more typically deathcore, with descending tri-tone riffs and monstrous vocals, before then erupting into a black metal frenzy about halfway through. These elements are explored on the majority of the rest of the songs on this album, which at times can get repetitive but this also helps to retain the album’s dark atmosphere.
Humanity’s Last Breath also don’t shy away from adding some more melodic passages here and there with this record, such as halfway through 'Descent' in what can be best described as an angelic but hellish passage, complete with dark ambient soundscapes and pitch-screamed vocals layered over deep growls. Similar passages also appear throughout the rest of the album, notably on the songs 'Spectre' and 'Sirens'.
Another great example of the band utilising melody to their advantage is the final part of 'Tide', which transitions from a deathcore rager into symphonic death-doom. Whilst vocalist Filip Danielsson may not have the most outstanding clean vocals, it certainly shows that he has range, and his monstrous growls more than make up for the clean vocals in the heavier sections.
Overall, Välde is another solid slab of deathcore from Humanity’s Last Breath. It’s not the most dynamically amazing album and there are definitely songs that are stronger than others, but it’s a lot of grim fun and the devastating heaviness combined with the dark atmosphere, blast beats and brief melodic transitions help to keep the listener’s attention. It’s certainly very unlikely there’ll be a heavier album released this year than this one.
Välde is released February 12th via Unique Leader.