Review Summary: Your fears are not enough to save you.
Once an architecture student, Anna Von Hausswolff started her musical endeavors with a modest debut in 2010 significantly called Singing From The Grave
, but she firmly broke in the "funeral pop" scene two years later with the impressive Ceremony
and established her reign shortly after with the following The Miraculous
. These two albums showcased not only her mastery of the pipe organ and a stunning, powerful voice but also a composer willing to drag pop conventions down a graveyard of post rock and burial chants to defy any sort of classification of her music. Her brand of dark post-ambient punk allured extreme metal bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, whose last album featured her in the extraordinary "Mother Owl, Father Ocean" among other tracks. It's also not coincidence that her latest release, Dead Magic
, has been produced by the Lord of drone himself, Randall Dunn, who is also the man behind the controls for the likes of Marissa Nadler, Earth and Sunn O))). His presence is well noted in the 5 colossal tracks that conform this Dead Magic
, an album that presents the amazing evolution of the Swedish artist in a ritual celebration of pagan melodies and pipe organ gloom that carries the weight of her past compositions as well as the subtle influence of the aforementioned artists.
For her last album, the location seem to have been a key concept and so the Swedish composer chose the emblematic and strongly religious ground of the Marble Church in Copenhagen, which also included the 20th Century pipe organ that inaugurates the monumental opening track "The Truth, The Glow, The Fall". The twelve minute suite serves as a rite of passage for the faithful but also as the scourge of the unprepared. This opening track drips with mystical energy from the very beginning, with the organ slowly building a haunting melody that sways Anna's first ominous words: "After the Fall, I'll find you"
. As the song moves onwards, Anna's voice grows and bleeds with magic indeed, while the hammering of the organ plays against a swarm of radiant strings and a mechanical drum beat to finally die in the frost of Anna's mournful voice.
"The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra" shows Anna unleashed, her singing evocative of a demonic Nico or even Diamanda Galás, she sounds almost possessed by a macabre entity in one of the most intense moments of the album, a droning wonder that represents probably the most abrasive side of Dead Magic
. The highlight of the album arrives with "Ugly and Vengeful", a sixteen minute behemoth that acts as the axis of the album and that would no doubt please the Black Emperor himself. Anna's nurturing voice heralds the forthcoming gothic storm in which she channels ancient and otherworldly beings, because whatever happened in that Danish church it has transcended into Dead Magic
with absolute dominance. The interlude "The Marble Eye" is a fantastic neoclassic composition that serves as the door to the final stretch of the album, "Källans Återuppståndelse", the celestial light at the end of the tunnel where the Swedish composer is left to the sole company of her organ to conclude the most enticing effort of her already stellar career.
It’s not the first time that Anna Von Hausswolff makes a considerable impact with her music. Instead, it’s becoming the rule for every new release bearing her name and only the Devil knows what the future will speak of her. But if anything is certain is that Dead Magic
consecrates the Swedish diva as one of the most important artists of the last decade, a supernatural banshee capable of weaving the soft wools of folk and pop with vampire thirst, creating a masterpiece that will positively outlive the vengeful spirits that roam within.