originally written by Chris McDonald
Ultra bleak, depressing black metal is becoming peculiarly popular these days, as evidenced by the rise in prominence of bands like Xasthur and the steady stream of pale and frail individuals forming new bands in this vein all over the world. Maybe we just like hearing music by people who live shittier lives than we do, who knows. Regardless, I’ve found that the artistic merits of this particular brand of black metal are often unfulfilling, as many projects seem to rely too heavily on their image rather than creating the music to match.
But Svarti Loghin’s take on this style intrigues me. Rather than the intense existential agony displayed by some of their darker peers, Empty World reminds me of Alcest in that it seems inspired more by a sort of melancholy nostalgia. Also like Alcest, the riffs here are often quite bright and even uplifting, and sound far removed from the suicidal musings of a band like Silencer. Keeping things almost entirely at a mid-pace, the six tracks on this album are all basically cut from the same vein: layers of highly distorted melodic riffs, buried drums, and the rather standard desperate sounding screams that are perhaps the only area where this band fails to make much of an impression. While the formula sounds played-out, Svarti Loghin piece together some very effective tunes in this manner. The riffs that comprise the title track and “Karg Nordisk Vinter” are beautifully constructed and really pull at the ol’ heartstrings in a way that metal hasn’t done for me in quite some time. Normally I’m the first to harp on black metal that lacks aggression, but this band has the riffing talent to go in an entirely different direction than most that pursue this style, and achieve a different yet rewarding atmosphere as a result. “Inner Desolation” and “The Silence Always Returns” walk a somewhat more hazy, morose path, but still retain that air of shimmering beauty that makes this an enjoyable record.
Like many albums that rely so heavily on a single theme, Empty World does start to run a little thin towards the end of its duration. While the first four songs are all very melodic and pleasant to listen to, by the time the nine-minute “Cold Void” comes around I find my attention starting to wane. This could be due to the singular tempo and one-dimensional vocals on this disc, or the fact that “Cold Void” is just not as good as the songs preceding it. Ultimately, I think that Svarti Loghin have the talent to progress beyond such a strict artistic template, and injecting some more variety and intensity into their music could very well elevate them to a status of greater worth in the underground. As of now, I’m still really enjoying Empty World and the unusual brand of depressive black metal it provides.