In Death by Svartsyn

Release date: June 9, 2017
Label: Agonia Records

Blasting out of the gates before slowing down and proceeding with nuanced tempo changes is Svartsyn’s full-length album care of Agonia Records entitled, In Death.

Modern black metal can be as bewitching as raw second-wave black metal used to be. Clearly not obsessed with raw necro production and second wave hackery, Svartsyn uses production values on In Death that allow for clearer instrumentation and potentially easier appreciation from fans. The drums keep pace for the most part, refraining from upstaging the guitars and vocals. Occasionally, blastbeats return to spell the slow and mid-tempo segments. While In Death is for the most part, deliberate with execution and songwriting prowess, the album doesn’t scintillate fans of black metal in search of albums considerably above the mean in quality and energy.

After careful deliberation, I’ve decided that I like the music on Svartsyn’s In Death, in spite of me often losing interest during intent listens. Still easy to appreciate as a modern black metal album that builds some harrowing conceptualization and atmosphere, Svartsyn’s In Death won’t appeal to most second wave black metal fans obsessed with the giants of the genre. Then again, who cares if black metal purists argue that modern black metal has little aesthetic value to show for an audience no longer prostrated with the sound of nineties’ black metal? Modern black metal fans will easily appreciate Svartsyn’s approach to songwriting. They vary the transitions and main riffs without playing too little of one interesting section, without similarly overplaying each of those sections to utter tediousness.

The album is a good listen, and credit is due Svartsyn for its attempt at expanding black metal’s creative horizons. Just know that there aren’t any hit songs, a’la Watain. There aren’t any obscure epics that easily get away from casual listeners. There aren’t progressive qualities similar to Esoteric Warfare-era Mayhem. 

Fans may occasionally pin comparisons to bands like Nightbringer and early Wolves in the Throne Room, but caveat must go to fans that Svartsyn makes no attempt at haunting ambient touches that either aforementioned band loves to include on their albums. That fact isn’t as obvious a drawback as it is a cause for excitement for fans who disapprove of ambient interludes in general. 

The riffs are occasionally catchy and the drumming often picks up the pace so as to never drown the listener in depressive black metal euphony. In Death is good for repeat listens. Know that this isn’t a clear choice for mainstream die-hards who crave catchy songwriting, and neither is this a clear choice for a meditative listen. Still, In Death will find an audience of intelligent black metal fans who delve deeply into the scene and check out more than a few albums when time permits. Not exactly artsy-fartsy, but sincere in aesthetic and performance, Svartsyn is recommended for an intelligent black metal audience that tires of second wave hackery.

Pin It on Pinterest