Svarttjern - Shame Is Just a Word
Soulseller Records
Black Metal
8 songs (36:46)
Release year: 2020
Official Facebook
Reviewed by Goat

Oslo-based Svarttjern have been blasting out the old-school darkness for nearly twenty years now, comprising of most of Carpathian Forest's current line-up (everyone bar Nattefrost and Vrangsinn, in fact) plus former Ragnarok vocalist HansFyrste. Which makes for a solid band, all with a decent amount of experience with other groups (bassist Malphas in Endezzma and Beastcraft, for instance) which is enough for Svarttjern's fifth full-length to be a respectable outing if not quite a revolutionary experience, as with past efforts reviewed here.

If anything marks the album out from past efforts it's a greater influence from the blackened thrash realm, as opener Prince of Disgust proves immediately with a wild, headbangable energy, and this mix of pure black battery and chugging thrash gives the album a crackling thrill that helps keep it interesting. Plenty of guitar solos (Ment til a Tjerne, for a terrific example early in the tracklisting) will keep the heavier metal brothers and sisters happy, while the occasional dip into slower, more atmospheric pieces such as Melodies of Lust with its mid-paced Marduk-ean crawl pay dividends. Frost Embalmed Abyss is the closest to standard Norwegian black metal on the album, oddly melodic at points with spoken and clean vocals thrown in here and there, almost like a mix of mid-period Enslaved before they fully embraced prog and Darkthrone before they went crust.

The focus is definitely on the thrashing likes of Ta dets Drakt, however, approaching the mighty Aura Noir with its razor-sharp riffing and even throwing in a breakdown halfway through to ensure maximum neck damage. Ravish Me builds from a groovy opening before switching into a thrashy gallop well and building into a blackened assault, and although the closing title track opens with a similarly groovy beginning, it's distinct from that and soon turns into punky thrash speed - the almost vocoder-effect on the vocals at the end not a good idea but by this point it seems charming rather than ridiculous and you forgive the band for it thanks to these tracks' overall enjoyability.

And were it not for such company a cover of Exodus' classic Bonded By Blood would raise eyebrows; normally bands including covers in album tracklistings is not a good sign, but in rare circumstances it can help enhance an album's overall vibe and here it seems only fitting, not least because Svarttjern are clearly fans and thrash their tiny black hearts out. Music critic cynicism is thus drowned in a torrent of headbanging, sealing the deal on an enjoyable album that probably won't make any year-end lists but is a ton of fun, and sometimes, that is more than enough. Quite possibly the most straightforwardly enjoyable thing Svarttjern have produced, if not quite their best.

Killing Songs :
Prince of Disgust, Ta dets Drakt, Ravish Me
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Svarttjern that we have reviewed:
Svarttjern - Towards the Ultimate reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Svarttjern - Misanthropic Path of Madness reviewed by Charles and quoted 65 / 100
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