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Svartsot: Maledictus Eris

Surely, Svartsot are constitute the spearhead of Danish folk metal, and are also among the leading folk metal bands internationally, and on this release, they take the listener on another journey into their music universe.

Musically, the folk and metal elements are fairly well integrated with both folk instruments and metal guitars performing lead melodies, most of which are derived from Medieval and other folk mustic, and – while the metal instrumentation in the form of downtunes guitars, bass and drums constitute the main rhythm section, the mandoline also appears side by side with metal guitars on the rhythm side. The underlying drive is, with its 3/4-beat fairly typical of a lot of Western folk metal, and it is primarily kept quite heavy, which in a way is a good thing, because it allows for some crushing riffage. The problem, however, is that with virtually all tracks having the same sort of drive, the album kind of loses its momentum towards the end, which is a shame because, individually, every track is quite good.

There is of course a lot of focus on melody on this album, since one of the defining characteristics of much folk metal is the use of folksy melodies – and this melodic dimension is one of the strengths of this album (I mean, just check a track like 'Den Nidske Gud' and 'Og Landet Ligger Så Øde Hen' whose melodic aspects is perfect in every way). A lot of the melody is provided by the folk instrumentation and guitar leads, although a lot of the riffage as an inherent melodicity to it too. The vocals are growled, and – while there is nothing wrong with that, and Thor Bager is very good at what he does – I think the album could have benefitted from clean vocals to contribute to the melodic dimension of the music. Also – and I know this sounds like a grandmother argument – I think it is a shame that it is so diffucult to decipher the lyrics from the singing, especially because the lyrics are in Danish rather than English, which is the dominant language of metal. Of course, one can just read the lyrics sheet that comes with the CD, but would have been nice if the listener could also hear the sounds of the language itself and how the sound qualities of Danish could have contributed to the overall authenticity of this release. It is my experience that different languages contribute differently to the overall sound of the music, but that dimension is sort of lacking here – I mean check out a track like 'Spigrene', which is performed with clear vocals rather than growls; it would have been really interesting if there had been much more singing like that on this album.

Svartsot are obviously top notch musicians who know what they are doing in terms of both performance and songwriting, and the production is big and epic, which obviously suits the music very well. Everything is executed with great precision on this album. Overall, this is a fine folk metal release with a lot of good stuff on it, and I am sure that it will appeal to fans of folk metal subgenres like pagan metal, Viking metal and the like.

Track Listing:
1. Staden...
2. Gud giv det varer ved!
3. Dødedansen
4. Farsoten kom
5. Holdt ned af en Tjørn
6. Den forgængelige Tro
7. Om jeg lever kveg
8. Kunsten at dø
9. Den nidske Gud
10. Spigrene
11. Og Landet ligger så øde hen

Added: July 29th 2011
Reviewer: Kim Jensen
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2868
Language: english

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