With so many sub-genres within black metal it is fantastic to hear a band who ignore all trends and send us back 20 years or so with their true black metal annihilation which is what this Norwegian band does with their fourth full length. Starting with an intro is clichéd but here we get one that is enjoyable with a drum beat equivalent to the starting of a massive battle. Increasing that drama with some keyboards is excellent right before “All Hail Satan” crushes you to your knees with its primitive intoxicating guitar riff. The melody of the song is excellent possessing a piercing insanity that prefers to adopt a similar structure to bands like Carpathian Forest and Craft by not blasting for the sake of it. There is a savage purity about this album when “Admiring Death” detonates into life with a thrash like riff that morphs almost into a heavy metal like riff something that courses through this album like molten volcanic rock. The rockier side of the band’s songs hint at a latter day Satyricon influence as “Blessed Flesh” catapults the album into a harsher side of black metal but still with those heavy metal riffs added.
To gain recognition in today’s global extreme metal market bands often have to add extra things which I am pleased to say Svarttkjern do not, preferring to hold the original hallmarks of black metal instead but adopting a flexuous style within the riffs starting with that heavy metal style I’ve mentioned but also thrash and occasionally speed metal, though whether the band would acknowledge or agree with my remarks I am not sure. “Det River I Meg” erupts with a cranked up blast pace that eventually yields for a borderline speed metal riff and accompanying double bass. I love the drum sound on this album, it has a genuine tone creating an organic feel as the tune crashes into a blazing thrash riff and tormented vocal style and a slower more avant-garde like structure.
The title track is colossal beginning with a bass riff and accompanying death grunt that catalyses the simple drum beat to get those neck muscles going. As the guitar is layered into the song that feeling of anticipation is palpable as the tune intensifies by adding double kick ready for the tune to be propelled forward with swirling dynamics; fantastic song. Slowing things down is “Hengivelse Til Doden” which rekindles those Carpathian Forest attributes leaving the closing tune “Acid Dreams” to etch a final lasting memory into that frozen black heart you possess with a varied vocal line and blasted opening section that gives way for a melodic yet superbly intense thrashing exposé. The riff break is Bay Area thrash to these wizened ears and is excellent at gelling the song together for one last pernicious push towards the songs and the albums finale.
(8.5/10 Martin Harris)