At the age of 9 (!!) Swedish Karl Johansson began to make music when his parents gave him a keyboard for Christmas. This turned out to be the beginning of a musical journey that has brought Johansson to the place he is today. Next to being bass guitarist and screaming vocals for Swedish Tungsten, the Swedish native is the founder and mastermind behind Gothtanica. An industrial gothic metal project that has just released its 8th studio album named Själavals. Four years of work went into this album that has 13 new songs and a total playing time of 58 minutes. Själavals is an independent release which has been released at Halloween 2021.
The Fallout is the opening track of Själavals and has been released as a single prior to the release of the album. An industrial oriented song with both clear and growling vocals and a fast pace make for a great album opener. Crown Of Desperation is the second track and again the tempo is there. An accessible song with influences from several genres nicely put together. The growls are from a high standard and the lyrics are strong.
Next up is Blood Moon. Again a song that was released early, as introduction to the new album. The tempo drops a little and the lyrics become a bit darker if you will. What strikes me is the high quality of the recording. Johansson is the founder, composer and recording artist of Gothtanica and all is created by himself.
Smoke and Mirrors fits nicely with the previous songs, and again the different styles Gothtanica uses, stand out to me. Real strong lyrics, a good tempo and a nice breakdown make for yet another good song. The fifth song on Själavals is called Behold My Creation and the pace is picked up again. Strong guitar riffs and ditto drums combined with the intriguing voice of Johansson make for a perfect example of what Gothtanica can bring to its listeners.
River Of Tears is the next song and for the first time this album the tempo drops during the entire song. Make no mistake, a somewhat slower song doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have power. Together with the screams and growl of Johansson, you feel the emotions throughout this song. One with the Nightmare is the seventh track on this album, and in my humble opinion the best track of the album. Aggressive and powerful vocals, heavy guitars and drums and “spooky” sound effects combined with a dramatic build up towards the end, are for me the absolute highlight of Själavals.
Let Me Go is a slow and more emotional song. Still Gothtanica but in a more gentle way. A nice break from al the up-tempo and heavier sounds. The piano at the end makes for a strong and powerful ending.
Breeder of Souls is up next and picks up the pace once again. The outstanding growls and screams of Johansson, combined with his clean vocals are once again perfectly balanced. Within the Everblack is a somewhat different song and from the get-go it has an ominous feel to it. The sound effects and whispering vocals give a mysterious feel to this track and the heavy parts embrace this feeling even more. Altar is the eleventh track of this masterpiece and it doesn’t disappoint. Again a heavier song with a touch of darkness to it. The general ambiance of this song fits neatly into the album. The last full song of Själavals is As the Curtain Falls and is a worthy ending. Again the general composition of the music stands out and the emotions that are felt in the song are strong. You almost feel the heartache and sorrow of Karl Johansson through his screams. The absolute ending of this album is the title track Själavals. An instrumental piece that calms the pumped up mind-set of yours truly.
After listening to Själavals I’m really impressed. Without a shadow of a doubt this is Gothtanica’s best album to date. The overall composition of the music is impressive, the growls and screams are from an exceptionally high level and the variety in tracks is well thought out. Själavals is a reasonably accessible album that has some true gems on it. When you’re listening to industrial and gothic metal, this album is an absolute must. The music style resembles bands like Blutengel, Gothminister and Deathstars but put into one sound. Gothtanica delivers a fantastic album and raises the bar to a very high standard for things to come!
Karl Johansson-vocals,screams,growls,all instruments
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