Carnal Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal
Arckanum - Kaos Svarta Mar:
Svartsyn - Skinning the Lambs:
6. A Night Created by the Shadows
7. Furnace in Purgatory
8. Skinning the Lambs
Side Arckanum: here
Hail the return of Arckanum. It’s been quite some time since “Kampen” has been released and I must say that I am quite impressed. I found “Kampen” to be an incredible disappointment in comparison to “Fran Marder” and “Kostogher.” This small offering of new songs is quite incredible. I think they are honestly better than the music portrayed on even the first two releases. The Arckanum part was released as a Mini-LP called “Kaos Svarta Mar, also this year, and it is the only way to get the tracks separate from Svartsyn. However, I would recommend you do not because the Svartsyn tracks are quite nice.
The Svartsyn tracks are very well done, but I found their album “Destruction of Man” a bit more interesting. The major difference I noticed on this work is that the bass guitar stands out a wicked lot. The guitar work wasn't as interesting in my opinion as “Destruction of Man.” I hope Ornias pulls it together and tops that album because Svartsyn has been getting consistently better in every release. It would be a shame to see them plateau so soon. Don't get me wrong the songs on this split are good, they're just not as passionate as I think they are capable of. I would recommend that listeners do not take these songs a defining moment to describe Svartsyn's sound. I feel their other material is much better. I don’t know why, but I get the impression that these songs were sort of rushed because their overall composition was limited in my opinion.
Overall this is a great split; the Arckanum tracks make this more than a worthwhile purchase. Like I said above, the Svartsyn tracks are good, but what you really want is the return of Arckanum. I’m really looking forward to a new full length, I hope he puts something together real soon because I would love to hear what material he has now based on hearing this.
Sound Riot Records, 2003
Genre: Black Metal
1. Archdemon of Binah
2. Children of Plague
3. Demons Walking on Earth
4. Towards Chaos
5. Devil's Image
6. Enemies from Beyond
7. Destruction of Man
When I first heard that “Destruction of Man” had been released it was about a year later that I finally procured a copy of the album. After seeing how Svartsyn transitioned as a band from “The True Legend” to “His Majesty…” I was quite interested to see if they would make yet another transition in quality. Svartsyn certainly don’t disappoint in that field, the question now is can they do it again?
Upon looking at the album I noticed some interesting song titles, clearly Svartsyn have grown in intellect as well as music this time around. “Archdemon of Binah” I found particularly interesting. Binah, in Hebrew means “knowledge” and it is one of the ten Sefirot in the Kabbalah on the pathway to God. In this case the Archdemon is Lucifuge Rofocale, a character out of occult lore. Different groups manifest the concept of this demon in different ways and I have no idea which way Ornias is talking about it. Through the broken English the lyrics discuss the fall of heaven and the fall of man. It’s all clearly influenced by the book of revelations, but with demons winning in the end. There is nothing majorly impressive here or new. In fact I sort of wish Ornias would sing in his native language since the grammar is so off. Plus Swedish is great to listen to; you shouldn't feel obligated to write in English all the time. I wonder if bands feel like they have to write in this language because it will “reach a wider audience”. I don't think this is entirely true. I would certainly listen to Svartsyn whether he wrote in English or Swedish.
“Archdemon of Binah” opens with what sounds to be summoning horns. It actually reminds me of the 13th Warrior (or Eaters of the Dead if you prefer the book) when the Wendo summoned the Fire Worm, as they called it in the movie. Svartsyn have absolutely progressed with their Black Metal assault this time around. If you like “His Majesty…,” which I thought was merely decent; you will surely love this amazing piece of sinister metal. Svartsyn sound darker, more hateful, and far superior to any of their previous works. Every song on here has an absolutely excellent and memorable riff that just locks you into the song. Ornias has surely come a very long way as a writer. The opening riff for “Archdemon of Binah” is a perfect example of this, but tracks like “Destruction of Man” have some superbly haunting sections in the middle that really bring the album together fully.
As I'm sitting here listening to this, I can’t help but wonder what “Destruction of Man” would have sounded like with Arioch singing on it with a vocal performance similar to that on Funeral Mist’s “Salvation.” Both bands are from Sweden, maybe they should consider some sort of collaboration? Don’t mistake me, the vocals on here are quite good and they work with the music fine, but if they really wanted that incredibly extra sinister touch having another vocalist sing with Ornias might be a good move in the future for these guys. I'm just trying to think of some overly drastic changes to wow the Svartsyn fans the next time around, because I don’t see how they could improve on things musically even more than this. The guitars are perfect, bass is perfect, and the drums are perfect! Speaking of the bass, it really adds that deeper demonic feel into the guitar work. Usually I don’t notice the bass too much in Black Metal and it’s more of a background instrument for me, but “Destruction of Man” would have sounded awfully thin without the bass performance working under it.
Track after track you get Svartsyn at their peak performance. I think everyone will agree that this is essentially a must have album. As a reviewer I would like to have reviewed it when it came out instead of a year later as it is now, but I have noticed that the albums I truly enjoy more than anything else take me the longest to review because I can’t think of sufficient words of worth to describe the truly amazing musical performance these bands are subjecting me to. Anyway, you get top notch Black Metal with this Svartsyn album, listen to any song on here, it doesn't matter which, they’re all incredible, or even better just listen to the whole album.
Folter Records, 1996
Genre: Black Metal
2. The True Legend
3. Tearing Your Soul
4. The Snake in the Garden of Eden
5. In the Ghoul-Haunted Forest Where the Winter was Eternal
6. Under the Devil's Moon
7. A Cursed Blaze from the Castle
8. The Shadows is Painting My Eyes
After a number of demos and a 7” Svartsyn release their debut album on Folter Records. I had never heard of either and the only reason I wound up tracking this down is because on the second album it stated it had the drummer from Dark Funeral. It was too long ago to remember if I was expecting Dark Funeral, but if I was it would have been disappointing. Svartsyn is a very different animal compared to what Dark Funeral puts out.
Strangely I feel like Svartsyn has touched upon a sort of different feel for Black Metal. It’s probably fairly related to types of things Arckanum and Algaion were doing around the same time, but I feel Svartsyn is generating a different type of atmosphere. Like Arckanum, Svartsyn can swing into some very catchy Black Metal riffs. They will often switch off between catchy and fairly hypnotic riffing styles. The atmosphere Svartsyn creates is somewhat different. It’s this wonderfully sinister sounding feel to the music that just locks you in and you just want to hear more of that.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to see this is the case. The production on “The True Legend” is fairly terrible. The vocals are way too loud for one thing. This is frustrating because Ornias’ vocals are great, but at the expense of hearing Surth's guitar work is not a worthy sacrifice. The drum production is fairly confusing because you can’t hear all of the drums all the time. Naturally the drum work is very solid, but with the production on the kit this weak it doesn't make for an enjoyable listen.
The packaging and layout are overly simplistic. But with early releases on a newer label this is to be expected. The cover is incredibly simple and is just a picture of fire. It doesn't feature a band logo or anything. The band logo is on the disc and back of the jewel case. Actually I’m surprised Folter even had a booklet printed since this is only their seventh release. Inside we get a few pictures of the band taken at some old graveyard. The lyrical content is fairly typical. Disdain for Christianity, war, etc. In the end I wouldn't expect anything less for a Black Metal album in 1996.
In the end the production value is what really lets this album down. In the future if they get even slightly better production they could have a very solid release on their hands. I can only hope that this is the case for them in the future because right now they are definitely classed as a band to watch in the future.