Swedish black metal band Wan dropped their latest EP Gammal är äldst right near the end of 2018, so chances are you might have missed it. While established fans may have had to wait a few years between 2013’s Enjoy the Filth and 2017’s Wan Way to Hell, this EP comes quickly by comparison and shows that the band isn’t merely sitting idle. For those uninitiated with Wan’s previous full lengths, the focus here is on extremely raw and in your face black metal that sits right on the edge of the first and second waves of the genre. While it’s certainly a familiar style, the group delivers the type of scorching intensity that makes this type of metal so appealing and the quick format of the EP allows the music to blaze a path of destruction without overstaying its welcome.
The five songs that make up Gammal är äldst run for just over fifteen minutes, which is the perfect length for the band’s approach to writing on the EP. Unlike some of the other groups out there that put in unnecessarily long intros or let their blasting sections drag on to the point of tedium Wan has a clear understanding that they can reach their highest peaks quickly and then move onto the next idea. The brevity works to their favor, as it allows the listener to focus on each individual riff that comes blaring out of their speakers with abrasive edges and an immense amount of weight. Gammal är äldst isn’t merely a blast fest either, as the songs are equally split between fast paced attacks and mid-tempo sections that take on equal punk and thrash influences. Admittedly there are some similarities when it comes to the way the fast and mid-tempo passages come together which does make the EP best taken as a whole rather than individually, but chances are good that if you like your black metal raw and nasty Wan will give you plenty of reason to return.
Vocalist Tsjud has been with the band since the beginning and has the exact type of pitch that is suited for Wan’s abrasive black metal. His screams come in at the higher range of the spectrum, with the type of rasp that feels like rusty knives cutting through your speakers. During some of the songs there are some backing pitches that appear briefly, but for the most part it’s Tsjud’s higher ranges that dominate throughout the EP. The recording has placed the vocals front and center, which makes them seem even larger than life when you have the wall of sound from the instrumentals raging underneath.
Wan certainly isn’t reinventing the wheel and there are some similarities between the song structures on Gammal är äldst, but it still remains a fast paced and blistering EP that fans of the earlier days of black metal will find extremely appealing. With a sound that comes in right at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s and just the right amount of punk and thrash riffing interspersed between the intense blasting, these guys know their audience and they do it damn well. Gammal är äldst is out now on Carnal Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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