Album of the Day: Svartsyn, “In Death”

Sweden’s Ornias has been spewing forth evil, raw-throated, buzzing black metal since the early 1990s, mostly under the moniker Svartsyn—which, sensibly, means “pessimism” in Swedish. The True Legend, from 1998, featured breakneck headbanging rhythms and sub-basement production values that made it a Satanic next-door neighbor to punk; 2014’s Black Testament, on Poland’s Agonia Records, has a fuller, more sweeping sound, with roiling tempo shifts and riffs that sound like they’re struggling to pull themselves from demon claws before being rent asunder.

Svartsyn’s latest, In Death, is even better, thanks in large part to the ongoing contribution of Belgium drummer Hammerman. Hammerman’s main project is the death metal band Fractured Insanity, where his work is solid but not especially distinctive within the subgenre’s conventions. Svartsyn’s looser, blackened structure gives him a chance to stretch his tentacles. His sound is surprisingly crisp, and dare we say it, ferally swinging. “The White Mask” opens with throbbing feedback pulse until Hammerman comes in with an itchy, solid beat, anchoring shifting grooves in the bleak murk. On “Dark Prophet,” he alternates blast beats with precise, dry, almost syncopated thwacks. Set against Osnias’s buzzing, shoegaze-performed-with-a-metal-file riffs, the effect is gorgeously disorienting, like Beelzebub fronting Sonic Youth.

“Black Thrones of Death” is even more adventurous. It starts with a few slow thuds and then Hammerman lets it rip, with the drums thundering at almost blast-beat speed, but with rolls, pick-ups, and patterns that are positively funky. Black metal rarely swaggers, but In Death manages to flick its grinding morbidity like a switchblade. It’s that rare black metal outing that will please purists while offering outsiders unholy pleasures as well.

—Noah Berlatsky

One Comment

  1. Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    dude sick why doesn’t anyone comment on these.

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