Review Summary: And up we went, blood and I, spread over the city.
How can something so unreal be so visceral? Viscera
is an album about lust, but it's also about travel. While the themes presented here aren't entirely new, Hval takes this journey in a completely poetic way, every phrase destructive, every refrain potent. It's the work of somebody that allows you to peak into their id - the view is dark and often disturbing. Perhaps the vocal melodies are to blame; after all, her voice all but encompasses every inch of the record, as if a ghost leading the meta-physical body through all the transformations to the soul that take place in the frozen lake of Cocytus.
Further delves reveal Viscera
to be tight for how drawn out and expansive these songs are. A sign of great songwriting; these folk(?) tunes are stretches out and tinkered with until the entire machine just collapses (the Cranberries-esque rock-out outro of "The Portrait Of A Young Girl As An Artist"). Hval plays with unconventional structures (like the completely linear and meandering but always engaging "This Is A Thirst") though her songs have waves of memorable moments. Viscera
, even through its massive force, is paced beautifully thanks to Hval's dizzying variety of phrasing and melodies. She goes everywhere on the album; up, down, in and out, quiet and piercing. Whether her virtuosity is alluding to the movement and travel themes I'm not sure. Either way, Viscera
is all Hval's own.
But it's Hval's lyrics that create the illusion that this is the most profound listening experience since the turn of the new decade. After all, it's not everyday a female artist revels in her own primal sexuality quite like this. Hval spans these 9 gorgeous tracks literally turning herself inside out. As the stunning closing track "Black Morning/Viscera" puts it: "and upside down, I felt my organs falling out. Through my throat, one by one.
". So gripping. So visceral