Albums of 2015 #2 - Anna Von Hausswolff - The Miraculous

Anna Von Hausswolff
The Miraculous
Released November 13, 2015
City Slang

If 2013’s Ceremony was Anna Von Hausswolff offering (and I quote my own review) ‘a captivating, uncompromising vision of darkness and the morose that combines dramatic, vastly ambitious cinematic soundscapes with intense vocals and lyrical themes that come across as a study of loss and death’ then just what is the 2015 follow-up The Miraculous? Vastly more ambitious, Gothic and monstrous for a start. A rock opera to challenge even Jim Steinman.

Its centre-piece is the first track we heard from it, actually two songs, a cover with an original entwined within it “Come Wander With Me/Deliverance”. The track feels like a combination and extension of Anna’s first two records, it is big (of course it is), bombastic and evokes earth-shattering emotion throughout, it’s both heavy and light, dark and celestial. An eleven minute opus of long, dense instrumentals and shivery organ chords that reach far beyond this realm and it leaves the listener completely breathless.

Opening track “Discovery” is the other outstanding epic, only nine minutes this time and some seven minutes before Anna’s haunting vocals enter the fray, by that time the untrained ear may be exhausted. The track belongs in Star Wars, a spacey, deathly procession that would capture the atmosphere of a battleship fight perfectly.

In comparison “Evocation” is a rather fleeting three minutes in length yet the terrifying howls that opens proceeds lets you know it’s coming to pack its punch within that time. There’s thick organ drones and murky guitars amongst Anna’s towering, deeply emotive vocals. Anna Von Hausswolff has a master of light and dark light no other, combining the chilly, natural feeling of her native Scandinavian landscapes with frankly terrifying howls and noises. You feel like you’ve landed north of the wall in Game of Thrones and the White Walkers are watching you.

"An Oath" is impassioned vocals that collide to an utterly gargantuan storm of noise yet it’s not until the last track of the album that we hit even a remotely accessible moment, “Stranger” ends the album with an acoustic, softly whispered tale that calms and soothes after the transcendental darkness before it.

The Miraculous is without doubt not an album for all but is without doubt a (nother) masterpiece from this most magnificent of artists.