Since the release of 2012’s ‘Flesh Cathedral’, Icelandic black metallers Svartidauði have been busy – amidst a plethora of live performances alongside the likes of Mgła and One Tail One Head, the trio have released three EPs and a live album. The fact that newest release ‘Revelations of the Red Sword’ is only the band’s second album feels surreal when you take into consideration the fact that they’ve existed as a band for over a decade and are a firm underground favourite. However, it’s clear that what Svartidauði are striving for is quality over quantity and this opus is tangible proof of this ethos.
‘Revelations…’ is densely layered with each track sounding more tempestuous than the last – from the opening chords of ‘Sol Ascending’ to the closing bars of ‘Aureum Lux’ this record just does not let up. Relentlessly stifling in heady atmosphere, it genuinely feels like there is a thick layer of fog shrouding the instruments, as they try to pierce their way through the metaphorical veil with razor sharp precision. The vocals shift from hellish throaty growls to agonised moaning howls, intensifying the experience and helping to bring balance to the swampy sounding aggressive black metal playing alongside them.
While it seems to be the fashion within the genre, currently, to don a face covering and play your instruments at such a low rumble they’re barely audible, Svartidauði are leagues ahead of the trend, writing their own rules and writing genuinely interesting songs that don’t just fade to background noise when played on an album from start to finish. ‘Wolves of a Red Sun’ deserves praise alone for its intricate guitar work and dynamic pacing. ‘Revelations…’ is yet another masterpiece from one of Iceland’s best. Let’s just hope it’s not another six years until their next offering.
(9/10 Angela Davey)