In early May I discovered and wrote about (here) a new song by a multinational band named Svartelder. I was originally drawn to the song because of an e-mail which explained that the current line-up of the band includes members of Carpathian Forest, In the Woods, Den Saakaldte, Pantheon I, and Old Forest, in addition to founder and frontman Doedsadmiral. The e-mail didn’t disclose which particular individuals from those bands are now part of Svartelder — they’ve taken new names for this purpose: Maletoth (bass, guitars), AK-47 (drums), Kobold (keyboards) — but if you snoop around on Metal-Archives, you can now figure it out.
That first song I heard was so good that I downloaded the EP that included it — Askebundet — as soon as it was released on July 10. All three songs on the EP turned out to be excellent, and I vowed to myself that I would review it promptly. Alas, like so many of my impulsive promises to myself, I failed to follow through. Now I’m finally making good — a month late. The only silver lining to the cloud of my ineptitude is that the EP is still available as a “name your own price” download on Bandcamp, so if you like it as much as I do, you can grab it without delay.
The reverberating guitar notes, warm bass tones, and slow, perfect drum rhythms at the beginning of the title track immediately set the hook. The band set the hook even more firmly when the double-bass rumble begins, the guitars begin to scratch and claw, and Doedsadmiral begins to shriek. The song is wonderfully varied and dynamic, moving back and forth between rocking, compulsively headbangable rhythms and more meditative passages. The keyboard notes that emerge, as spare and simple as they are, become magnetic, and there are some delicious riffs in this song as well as moving waves of melodic tremolo guitar melody.
The overall aura of the music is sombre, melancholy, and even hallucinatory, and it’s also very infectious. This is a long song whose length is completely justified.
“Bleeding Wound” follows “Askebundet”, driving hard from the start in a swarm of dissonant riffs and blasting drums, with Doedsadmiral‘s vicious snarl further inflaming the music. A dramatic, dark, sweeping melody begins to flow like a cold river after that rushing start, and the song eventually becomes even slower and darker, building an atmosphere of ominous, oppressive gloom before the band again start ripping and rocking — without ever sacrificing that overarching atmosphere of menace.
This fine EP ends with “Ingen Vet Jeg Var…”, and it’s a powerhouse finish, with Svartelder again showing the dynamism and variety that marks all the songs on the EP, with a phalanx of electrifying, hard-rocking riffs joined to slower, eerie melodic segments and passages of vicious, predatory grinding. The song includes a soulful guitar solo and a thunderous low end, and deftly mixes harrowing ferocity with grim moodiness.
In a nutshell, this is an extremely well-written and well-performed trio of songs by a group of very talented people, a dynamic blend of black metal and other musical elements that has proved to have staying power since I first heard it a month ago. Let’s hope that this project continues, and delivers more music of this high quality.