Originally written by Jason Jordan.
This has been a decent month for me so far, as I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Black Crucifixion’s The Fallen One of Flames and now Svartsyn’s Bloodline. These furious Swedes entered the scene in 1991, known then as Chalice, and have released several demos and full-lengths since. This is an attempt at perfecting swift, intense black metal, and the speed itself hovers right above, say, Darkthrone. Ultimately though, this has shimmering qualities and proves enthralling for what it is, but falls short if you’re chasing something that will captivate you from start to finish.
All of the songs here – sans the two bonus tracks from the Tormentor EP – range between four and five minutes each, and succeed at enveloping the listener by way of the tempo. It’s quite difficult to refrain from physically reacting to the music whether it’s bobbing, headbanging, or jumping the fuck up. “Terrordemon” is an excellent leadoff because it’s filled with many laudable traits: driving rhythms, wiry and melodious guitar work, and cool drum fills. Bloodline, not to be underestimated, contains a gamut of subtleties. The keyboards are executed in a fashion that screams attention during certain moments, but at others you’ll forget Svartsyn even use them. Moving from “Bloodline” to “Vampyric Sleep” is a good way to prove the above-mentioned point. On the one hand, at the 2:40 minute mark of “Bloodline,” boisterous keyboards assume the forefront for their brief lifespan. (I don’t know why but I imagined a power metal keyboardist, clad in tight frilly clothes, running through the studio at that particular moment.) While on the other hand, “Vampyric Sleep,” in addition to containing mean infectious riffing, is laced with synthesizers though they’re barely noticeable; plus it offers leads at its midpoint, and those aren’t exactly commonplace in black metal. Either way, they’re both great songs for different reasons. As the BM force rolls on, though, my interest wanes due to heavy reliance on the same tempo. And despite the abundance of intriguing melodies, coupled with sudden raises in intensity (“Great Mysteries of Death”), the release just isn’t able to consistently hold my attention during its 55 minutes in length. The last two tracks, “Goatthrone” and “Throne of the Antichrist,” take a dive as far as production is concerned, adding fourteen minutes to the overall time, which only hinders the captivation factor even more.
However, Svartsyn are very enjoyable in two or three song increments. Bloodline is somewhat fresh – though it doesn’t eschew traditional elements – and the group as a whole is worth a listen. I’m also convinced that their massive back catalog holds some gems, too. This disc isn’t quite staggering or flooring, but it’s enough to get blood rushing to the body’s extremities. And at times that’s all I want.