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Per Wiberg is the keyboardist of stoner metal band Spiritual Beggars. He also played with Swedish progressive metal band Opeth between 2005 and 2011, and did session work for several bands, including Arch Enemy, Candlemass and Grand Magus, among others. He also sings and plays bass with retro-rock power trio Kamchatka.

In 2019 Wiberg released his debut solo album under his own name. The album, titled Head Without Eyes, combines elements of progressive rock/metal, psychedelia, doom, industrial metal and gothic rock. In 2021 Wiberg released a follow-up EP consisting of four tracks in a similar vein as the debut album.
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PER WIBERG Head Without Eyes album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Head Without Eyes
Metal Related 2019

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PER WIBERG All is well in the land of the living, but for the rest of us . . . lights out album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
All is well in the land of the living, but for the rest of us . . . lights out
Metal Related 2021

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PER WIBERG All is well in the land of the living, but for the rest of us . . . lights out

EP · 2021 · Metal Related
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Per Wiberg’s name will be familiar to many readers. He has been playing keyboards for stoner rock/metal outfit Spiritual Beggars for over two decades, and many will also remember him for his three-album spell (between 2005 and 2011) with prog metal gods Opeth, or for his session work with Arch Enemy and Candlemass, to name a few. Recently, Wiberg has also started releasing albums under his own name. In 2019 he released his debut full-length album Head Without Eyes, a powerful concoction of Scandinavian prog, psychedelia, space rock, gothic and industrial metal. The new EP, All Is Well In The Land Of The Living, But For The Rest Of Us… Lights Out, just released via Despotz Records, continues to explore similar musical territories, perhaps with an added dose of dark pessimism, as per the album title.

Written and played by Wiberg alone with only the help of drummer Tor Sjödén (New Keepers of the Water Towers), the new EP is comprised of four interconnected songs, whose titles, read together, form the long EP title, highlighting the strong sense of continuity that pervades this release. This is indeed how one should approach this record: as a long 24-minute long suite exploring different shades of the same hallucinated musical journey. The material is heavy, but not in the sense of hyper-distorted guitar riffs, heavy-hitting fast tempos, and screamed vocals. The album’s heaviness comes from its thick, hypnotic atmospheres, its layered sound textures and loopy structures, Wiberg’s nasal filtered vocals, and the copious use of fuzzy distortion and flangery effects that pervade the music.

The four tracks cleverly alternate the intensity with which they deliver their dose of heaviness. “All Is Well” offers a gentle start to the album, its soft piano and acoustic guitar arpeggios calmly emerging from a sea of effects and background noise. However, Wiberg’s stoned vocal delivery immediately injects a sense of sinister sombreness to the music, in a way that reminds me of Porcupine Tree and some of the darker solo material by Steven Wilson. The impending sense of doom is only accentuated in the next song, “In The Land Of The Living”. There is a strong 70s vibe in this trippy, guitar-driven track that brings to mind band like Hawkwind and the whole space rock movement, albeit with a more sinister feel which is further increased by the ominous dissonances that appear mid-song. “But For The Rest Of Us…” is probably the most surprising piece of the album. It’s a 6-minute cinematic piano improvisation enriched by wordless vocalizations, sparse percussions, and background ambient noise. Its otherworldly atmosphere gives some respite to the listener after the fuzzy grooves of the previous track, but without dialling down the sombre, spooky atmosphere of the album. The album closes with “Lights Out”, a track whose cold piano arpeggio, groovy bassline, and dark sound effects instantly remind me of Ulver circa Perdition City. After an electrifying bluesy guitar solo, the track slowly descends into dissonance and doom, giving an appropriate conclusion to this hallucinated musical journey.

All Is Well In The Land Of The Living, But For The Rest Of Us… Lights Out is a great EP that serves as a fitting soundtrack to these strange, dark times. Its thick, otherworldly atmospheres represent a gloriously dark and hallucinated take on Scandinavian prog that weaves together Wiberg’s many musical influences and takes them to the next level of dark melodic exploration. If you have liked Wiberg’s debut LP, or if you dig any of the bands mentioned in this review, you ought to check out this EP!

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

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