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Himmellegeme — Variola Vera
(Karisma KAR216, 2021, CD / LP / DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2021-11-19

Variola Vera Cover art

Norwegian band Himmellegeme just released their second album of dark psych and progressive rock. In case you are wondering, Variola vera is the name of the smallpox virus, which contributes to the otherworldly nature of the music composed and released under the shadows of Bergen and COVID-19. Heavy-hitting riffs, chilling melodies, and melancholic lyrics combine in various ways to communicate the impact humans have on our planet and the destruction left in our wake. Variola Vera is not a concept album per se, the lyrics are rooted in reality, based on events seen from different points of view. Himmellegeme are masters at naming evocative song titles that match the listening experience:  “Shaping Mirrors Like Smoke” has a slow wispy underlayer, “Heart Listening” has a mournful vibe that is supplanted by engaging riffs, “Let the Mother Burn” is an aggressive and massive wall of sound, and “Caligula,” named for the decadent Roman emperor, is a bellicose fuzzed distorted prog rock excursion. I am not quite sure what the song “Agafia” is about and the lyrics are not in English. Searching the web, the song could be about the Russian hermit Agafia Lykova who has lived alone in the Taiga for over 70 years. The album closes with the title track, and this is the one exception to the song title matching the musical mood. “Variola Vera” is an atmospheric instrumental with some dark elements, but it is primarily an upbeat acid folk tune, something that does not convey the horrors of smallpox. Needless to say, Variola Vera is an excellent second outing for Himmellegeme.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Himmellegeme

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