Blastbeats and tremolo picking are pretty much, if not a black metal trademark, then at least a typical characteristic of the genre, but many black metal bands, despite having blastbeats galore, are rarely brutal, and the blastbeats and tremolo picking have more atmospheric effects. This does not apply to Norwegian blackmetallers Svarttjern's Towards the Ultimate.
The music on this album has a sense of brutality and aggression to it, while also retaining the elements that define much modern black metal, such as the tremolo picking, the blastbeats, the tense guitar harmonies, the dissonance and so on. The brutality stems from Svarttjern's incorporation of elements from thrash metal and more primitive old school death metal, which means that there is some substance to a lot of the riffage – especially in the midtempo thrashy passages – and there are even some groovy sections too (such as one of the main riffs of 'Fow What Blooms Without Lust', which has the same kind of heavy groove found in Bolt Thrower's 'The Killchain'), and there is a considerable amount of palm-muted guitar playing, palm-muting being an important element, I think, in generating brutality in music that involves distorted guitars.
There is also a certain dynamism to many of the tunes, generating by the way that Svarttjern intermixes black metal and thrash metal elements (leaning more towards black metal though) and juxtapose high-speed sections and midtempo, and even heavy, sections. This also makes Svarttjern's music seem less abstract and more tangible than the music of many other black metal acts. Despite the brutality and intensity, there is a certain melodic nature to a lot of the tunes on the album, which is often generated in the interplay between the two guitars in the blastbeat-and-tremolo sections.
Svarttjern have avoided the lo-fi production that many black metal acts embrace, but at the same time the production is not too polished. It is well-defined enough that you can hear what is going on, but not so polished that the music loses its punch and brutality.
1. Breathing Soil
2. Hellig Jord
3. Superior Growth
4. Aroused Self-Extinction
5. I AM the Path part II
6. Desolate Predictions
7. Unmasked Violation of Life
8. Through Madness and Sanity I AM
9. For what Blooms without Lust