Originally written by Erik Thomas
I’ve been on a traditional black metal kick recently, ingesting the likes of Nidingr, Sacreligious Impalement, Sargeist, Helrunar, and numerous “Svart” bands — including the sixth album from long running cult Swedes Svartsyn (“blacksight”). And while it’s a blistering effort of typically Swedish black metal, it’s definitely one of those common “well done, but hardly brilliant” albums that litter the genre.
At various points in their career, Svartsyn (who started out as Chalice in 1991) has had or currently has members of Watain, Dark Funeral, Unpure and Triumphator in its ranks, but there is reason why they’ve never been quite mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Dark Funeral, Funeral Mist and Marduk. They’re more in line with equally competent second-tier acts like Setherial, Devian and such.
Despite a typically frosty, fast and militant take on well-done black metal, like the recent Sacrilegious Impalement album, nothing really sticks after it’s over. And it comes across as nothing more than your typical fire-breathing, corpse-painted album of competent black metal. Even with a very impressive performance from drummer Baruch van Bellegem and a pretty furious pace from start to finish, there’s no track on Wrath Upon the Earth that truly commands my attention or that really differentiates itself from the countless other similar hordes.
A few piecemeal marches and atmospherics litter the assault, but to be honest, once you’ve heard the introductory number and the “Wrath of Leviathan”, you’ve pretty much heard everything the band and album have to offer. Sure, you could check out the likes of “My Mountain”, “Deathsworned” and “Blood Temple” and take in the violent drumming, tremolo-picked riffs, occasional hints of slicing melody, the occasional death metal slow-down and Ornias’ gruffer-than-standard vocals, which all make for an erstwhile effort, worthy of the “Swedish black metal” moniker, but they all lack anything vaguely creative or original.
And while those who prowl graveyards by the full winter’s moon will certainly appreciate the simple, effective and undoubtedly vicious throes of such a long-standing act (as do I, in certain moods), in an era of Agalloch, Fen, Deathspell Omega, Krallice and many other envelope-pushing bands in the genre, it’s going to take a much more elite level of album to make a dent in the even simpler venues of traditional black metal.