When one thinks of death metal, or Scandinavian metal, one doesn't think of Tiamat at all. It seems like they are have been forgotten among the metal community. It's sad, really. Although this is the only Tiamat album I've listened to, this should easily rank them up there among the most well-known and inspiring bands of the 90's. I can safely say this album is hugely underrated. Released in 1994, Wildhoney is a true masterpiece, a flowing melody of harsh vocals and beautiful keyboards. A transistional album, with only ten songs, you will be strangely satisfied with what little it has to offer. At 42 minutes, it's shorter than most transistional albums. You will want to listen to it over and over, without realizing it. It's not enough, but in way, more would be too much.
Back in 1994, critics and fans alike were blown away when they heard this. They couldn't believe the sounds that were created on the bands 4th album. It was the bands commercial breakthrough, but that doesn't take anything away from the sounds contained. They successfully utilized the sound of brooding, harmonious keyboards accompanied with thick guitars and pounding drums. Lyrically, Johan is triumphant, with subject matter varying from love, elitism, and armageddon. He sounds great, he knows when to whisper, and screaming when you want him to. He can instantly and effortlessly go from a growling bellow, to a mournful sing-song voice. He is a marvelous singer and lyricist.
As with most transistional albums, to get the full experience, you would need to listen to the entire album. This is no exception, in fact it's neccessary you do. Although there are six actual songs, the four soundscapes are vital to the albums success. It begins with the title track, which is to insinuate a proper introduction to the first actual song, "Whatever That Hurts". Tiamat has a unique quiet/loud formula, which they demonstrate on in the second track. The song would be terrific without the keyboards, but when added, provide this new layer that showers down on you.
Musically, it's nothing technically amazing. Great music doesn't have to be technical to sound good. What makes Wildhoney stand out from the rest of the pack is its overall sound. It's just a wonderful union of two opposites, light and dark, heavy and light, that formed into something completely amazing. The album wouldn't be the same without Waldemar Sorychta's keyboards. Incidentally, he is the producer of the album. The band knows how to layer each sound properly, without it sounding muddy. Everything sounds clear, like it should be. There are heavy drums, with heavy guitars, with heavy vocals, but the instruments don't interfere with each other. It never clashes. There are guitar solos, but they are used sparingly, in order not to sound above the other instruments. All instruments shine through individually, evenly, cleanly. Together they create this emotional atmosphere, aided by the orchestration.
If you would like to listen to individual songs, that's not a problem, because they are terrific by themselves. More than likely, though, you'll find yourself listening to Wildhoney in its entirety, rather than skipping through tracks. Anyway... my first songs from Wildhoney was Gaia and Do You Dream of Me, respectively. These two tracks are flawless, they seem like ballads, but they differ in a lot of ways. In the latter, Johan has a sing-song voice the entire song, like reading a nursery rhyme. The last line, do you dream of me, is whispered in a bone chilling way. Later in the song there is an out of place breakdown, then reverts back to the original format. Gaia is a much more angry and hurtful song, with Johan painfully singing along to a bridging song. The song is mostly soloed guitar, but it never feels out of place. The album closer, A Pocket Size Sun, is such a sad song, you could almost cry to it. It's the longest song at 8 minutes, but it feels like 5 minutes. Visionaire is a great song, another example of Johan's whispering over a riffing guitar and twilight keyboards. The AR is a wicked song, using chanting vocals in the chorus, with Johan at his harshest vocally. A brooding song.
These are all standout tracks. Wildhoney is a completely transitional album, with all of the ten tracks offering different things, all good. Having said that, Gaia and Do You Dream of Me. But there isn't a bad song to be found.
Overall - A beautiful, bittersweet album, that is a landmark in metal. I can't recommend Wildhoney enough. It is a completely triumphant release from an unnoticed talented band. If I could give it to you, I would. It has something to appeal to everyone. You may not like everything it has to offer, but there is always something to like about it. 4.5/5
Johan Edlund - Guitar, vocals
Johnny Hagel - Bass
Magnus Sahlgren - Lead guitar
Lars Skold - Drums
Waldemar Sorychta - Keyboards
Birgit Zacher - Additional vocals