Sweden lays claim to one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and while that may seem like a grand statement it is right on the proverbial money. In fact, in my humble assertion, Scandinavia has bragging rights to the three greatest black metal albums ever in Mayhem’s ground-breaking De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,Bathory’s epic Blood Fire Death and Vinterland’s Welcome My Last Chapter. When it comes to this accredited “second wave” of black metal it pretty much reads like a how-to book with these three albums. Vinterland has D.F. Bragman and Andreas Jonnson from The Black and together with Fredrik Lundkvist they managed to fashion a tremendously important and lasting opus in Welcome My Last Chapter, a virtual masterpiece in a never-ending line of black metal releases that are copious amounts of mediocrity and rehashing.
From the very first track, “Our Dawn of Glory” the utter insanity and unquestionable beauty of this album hits like a mace to the face, sudden and surprising, and the immediate feel of the standard black metal sound is often overwhelming and arguably unforgettable. From track to track, Chapter is a literal biblical collective, a vastly undervalued gem in the metal world that transcends the formulaic efforts of virtually any band that dares to call itself “true” blackened metal. When you think of true art forms put to music, for black metal, nothing truly calls upon the forces of darkness and evil like this album. The speedy tones provides the meat from this offering, often so encompassing that you might find yourself outside of yourself and getting lost in all that is this recording.
With such strong and provocative tracks like “I’m an Other in the Night” and “Still the Night is Awake” the scene that has seen nothing short of sadistic imitators since things exploded in Norway in the early 90’s will always remain pure with such brilliant assemblages as this floating around the underground. To say that this album as a whole is brilliant or resonating simply does it little justice; it’s powerful and sincerely gorgeous within itself, providing what can only be described as the perfect stabilizer for a dark, cold mood. Usually when you hear an album from this genre you might pick out certain songs that simply speak volumes or capture the essence of your particular state of being. This album simply must be heard in the proper song order with the proper surroundings and without any peripheral distraction to harbor your attention.
“So Far Beyond…(The Great Vastforest)” is nothing short of delightfully enchanting with its piano that can serve as either high praise for a life well versed or as punishment for an existence self-served. It sincerely is one of the more lovely pieces of music I’ve heard from a metal band, delivering a serene massage to the senses, no matter how dismal your particular frame of being might be that day. In all ways this album is just as close to perfect as it gets.
Without reserve, this album is the ‘be all, end all’ of black metal magic from the Swedish scene.