Khold - Svartsyn
Soulseller Records
Black Metal
10 songs (40:13)
Release year: 2022
Reviewed by Goat

Their seventh album in just over two decades of existence sees Norwegian blackened groove monsters Khold feeling a little abstract, as that striking cover art shows. Playing with the distinct corpsepaint of frontman Gard has always been part of this band's art, yet never to quite this kind of artsy effect. Indeed, the awkwardness of past depictions was built in, the band's groovy, bass-worshipping dirges close enough to black metal to belong but straying far from orthodoxy. And this alone gave them something of an experimental air for the genre, throwing in touches of more modern sounds here and there to create a uniqueness all of their own. Svartsyn is no different, seeing Khold as direct and focused as ever with none of the artsiness of the cover art, kicking off with the rocking Apostel and exploring darkness in the depths of the grooves.

Throughout, the band mostly eschew blastbeats and cliches in favour of bass-upfront churning and more of a varied approach to drums as Gard snarls out his dark sermons. Mostly, but not all - there are blasters present like Manngard's straightforward assault. Yet generally the band stray about as close as they've ever been to black 'n' roll, the likes of Dystopi and Vilvandre exploring the groovy depths in a way that doesn't feel like 90s commercial metal, but rather falling deep into an endless dark void. The atmospheric impact of the music isn't at all reduced by the bottom-heavy focus, far from it; the melancholic meandering of the guitars especially gives the Khold sound a real, erm, chilliness, but the essential groove is ice cold itself, pounding through the likes of Ødslet blod nothing so much as oddly like a blackened Rammstein. The band are proudly rock 'n' roll, as the upbeat intro to Skarpretter heralds and yet they also more than understand the darkness at the heart of black metal, as that track's almost industrial pounding proves as it continues, or the crawling Helligdom Av Døde with its slow intensity.

This is no attempt at radioplay a la Now, Diabolical-esque Satyricon, even with clear and obvious hooks thrown in throughout - the spiritual link and aural heritage to, say, Darkthrone is obvious, and this remains music far too heavy for non-believers. And with a long eight years since they last bothered our ears with their previous album, increasingly a rare occurrence; Khold are a delight each time they cast a dark shadow over the scene with a new release, easily beating sister band Tulus in quality stakes thus far. You can hear scope for them to push the boundaries further - the intriguing punkiness to the bass-driven grit of I Demonens Bok, for example - yet so essentially enjoyable and immediate is Khold's music that rediscovering them and feeling those basslines rattle your spine is enough. As underrated as ever.

Killing Songs :
Apostel, Ødslet blod, Helligdom Av Døde, I Demonens Bok
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Khold that we have reviewed:
Khold - Til Endes reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Khold - Mørke Gravers Kammer reviewed by Tony and quoted 83 / 100
Khold - Hundre Ar Gammal reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Khold - Krek reviewed by Alex and quoted 65 / 100
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