10/3/2006 - Review by: Etiam
Svartsyn - Bloodline - 2005 - Sound Riot Records
The peculiarities of Svartsyn, at least the Svartsyn of 2006, begin with ‘Bloodline’s cover art, a black and white sketch that will likely remind some of last year’s The Dark Archives from the new American group Charnel Valley, a cover of dubious quality that prompted criticisms regarding the band’s character and ‘trueness’. Svartsyn also share with Charnel Valley a raw and seemingly monochromatic style of black metal that subtly draws from modern influences in a rather ‘USBM’ way. This is only a passing comparison, though, as Svartsyn is the more successful of the two in essentially all respects. A more effective comparison for Svartsyn would combine a number of bands: the black ‘n’ roll (though not quite to that extreme) of new Darkthrone, the contributing and audible bass of Leviathan (along with some of that production style) and the rare but powerful splashes of ethereal atmosphere, perhaps the most European of Svartsyn’s aspects, reminiscent of France’s S.V.E.S.T.
Another strange aspect of this album is the press release. Despite the rather modern fringes of ‘Bloodline’, the press release from Sound Riot (a stalwart label for underappreciated groups) claims that this album was actually recorded in 1997 and 1998, and that the mastering only occurred in 2005. The veracity of this is unverified, but it may add an unusual perspective to the listening experience.
Also included after the essentially useless outro track is the band’s two-track Tormenter EP from 1998, which is admittedly difficult to digest after the relatively clean production of the preceding tracks. However, the final two tracks are actually quite revealing and worth more than a cursory listen, as they embody more of the unique atmosphere previously mentioned and are quite possibly the best part of this album, for those willing to look past the production.
And it is those small breaks from the ordinary that make ‘Bloodline’ so listenable. Svartsyn are not a band to convert any skeptics, nor a band to get too terribly excited over, but they are competent, to say the least. Slightly-more-than-standard-fare to clean one’s blackened palate without compromising its quality.
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