Is it good or bad to be reminded right away of another band, when starting on a new review?
Wildhoney of the Swedish band Tiamat does exactly that to you. And the album resembles – in style – to what we get to hear from bands like modern-day Moonspell and Pink Floyd. Aye, I kid you not.
But even if this is so, it means that Tiamat display vision, creativity, and courage to go to places where no others were before. They just take inspiration from other work (in this case Pink Floyd) and then run with it. Because the aforementioned Moonspell made a different type of music back when this disk was born.
Unfortunately, a lot of substance-induced shit presents itself on Wildhoney, a greenwashed disk of vinyl, if there ever was one. And this will cost Tiamat one or two stars off the rating. But what a move away from the 1992 production Clouds, which was on the Grunge/Death Metal train, big time. I never cease to be amazed.
So where is Wildhoney moving to?
The record was one of my guilty pleasures for a long time. It is not metal in the proper sense, but more of a symbiotic production between the drug-induced garbage people liked to produce back in the ’70s. Metal interludes and airy, fairy stuff of the green painted, crazed, and bearded forest tree huggers kind.
Now this sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Never fear: Wildhoney is one of the best such symbiotic productions that I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy and review. Why do I call this symbiotic? Tiamat mixed all these different styles1) into an amalgam of alluring scenes and airy soundscapes that make you want to get more. And they pulled this off beautifully.
Wildhoney is almost a concept album.
All details fit together, playfully linked by intros, intermezzos, and other beautifully crafted fillers.2) The quality of production, mixing, and mastering are by far outstanding.
True, I am hearing Pink Floyd at every corner of this record, and sometimes eerily so. But then there is enough authentic stuff in it to please. Sometimes even including a (fairly) good solo. Such as in Whatever That Hurts around 3/4 along the way, and another found in Gaia. Pretty good, but somewhat subdued.
And for once the intro does not suck. Starting with Wildhoney – the title track with a forest/swamp noise background. The seamless shift into Whatever That Hurts (and I mean seamless) is just astonishing. A funky mixture of Atmospheric Metal elements at first. Earthy noises, and some pseudo Death Metal provisions by Johan Edlund. All of this intersperses with some psychedelic interludes, but more to that later.
Interestingly, Wildhoney was produced with a skeleton setup of two. Johan Edlund and John Hagel, plus a score of studio musicians. It looks like Edlund felt back then that the old crew would not be able to handle such a change. And went ahead firing most of them. Nasty, that. But the end result is more than presentable.
One of the highlights of the album is Kaleidoscope, again seamlessly followed by Do You Dream of Me. And I marvel at their skill to hook two tracks together in such a way. Laid back, dreamy, very relaxing sound of nature, and good storytelling. The latter actually appears to be a love story of sorts – very nicely executed.
Wildhoney – a gateway production?
Yes, probably. The disc leads from what Tiamat was before to what they are today. The record is also full of hidden meanings and controversial stuff. For example, The Ar talks about the evil of man, taking as a token the pentagram and the Aryan Race. A somewhat dangerous way of describing stuff. But then, Edlund never was a conformist, right?
One of the interesting aspects is that the producer – Waldemar Sorychta3) – also contributed to some of the songwriting, plus others as well. So, the songs and lyrics you find are somewhat of a team effort. Whilst still centered a lot on Johan Edlund, of course.
On the negative side, I always had trouble with the psychedelic 4) parts of Wildhoney. 1994 was way beyond this type of performance. The brunt of it happened towards the ’70s and early ’80s when many bands did not know how to stop going overboard with drug use. And this inevitably had a weird influence on their musical styles. For this artist, this leads to trainwrecks like Pocket Size Sun or its predecessor Planets.
Wildhoney needs to be enjoyed in one piece. Very complex, difficult to dissect, and beautifully connected to form one piece of work. This is great stuff, one of my favorites in the Atmospheric/Psychedelic Metal works I know.
Pink Floyd really influenced the style of this album. And as the lore goes Johan Edlund even confessed to striving to reach a PF sound-alike. Perhaps they overdid this a little. But as a complete piece of work, well done.
Get dat tune: