HIMMELLEGEME – Variola Vera
Back in 2017 when Himmellegeme’s debut offering "Myth of Earth" came out, I was absolutely floored by the sheer depth and (cinematic) scope of their work and just how utterly original and deepfelt it all sounded. Fast forward to 2021 and their sophomore effort entitled "Variola Vera" is about to be released by the ever-reliable Karisma Records, but where exactly do we stand with this one? Is it a worthy follow-up to its predecessor?
There is a surreal, dream-like quality to these eight compositions, and listening to it feels as if one exists outside of time and space. It is undoubtedly progressive and layered in terms of its structures and arrangements but how to classify this expertly crafted record? It is wildly dynamic and diverse, which means that there are traces of alternative rock, indie rock, ambient music, psychedelic rock, Americana, and prog rock at play here. "Variola Vera" is piercingly sad and uncompromisingly somber at times (if you want proof, check the title track out), and immersing oneself in it is not necessarily an easy experience as such, but it is extraordinarily memorable and also downright catchy and occasionally even funky and uplifting too. In many ways, it strikes the perfect balance between vitality and bleakness, and these tunes constitute a rare musical journey that is definitely worth the mileage. Each song possesses character and substance, the vocals are varied and always emotive, and the crunchy and vibrant production is one of the best that I have come across this year.
Is it possible for a piece of work to tackle existential horror and walk that fine line between being reassuring and downright terrifying? If "Variola Vera" does not move or haunt you then you are quite clearly doing something wrong. Its artwork, lyrics, and overall presentation complement the music beautifully throughout. So yeah, this is a most worthy follow-up to "Myth of Earth" and fans of such diverse acts as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Seigmen, and Radiohead ought to invest in this moody, marvelous, opus