Svartsyn - Black Testament
Agonia Records
Black Metal
7 songs (42' 39")
Release year: 2013
Svartsyn, Agonia Records
Reviewed by Andy

Svartsyn has put out some good albums in the past, especially since their production/mixing was cleaned up and one could start appreciating all parts of their sound. A lot of people have been looking forward to what front man Ornias recommends as "a journey through my spiritual darkness and death" (according to the band's record label), and while we've undertaken similar journeys in the past on other albums, it never hurts to make one more. This very traditional album certainly delivers what's expected, though it would be nice if there was more variety.

In this one, the vocals haven't changed much from previous albums, but Ornias seems to have put more effort into making the riffs more chaotic and blasting than before. After a rather nondescript intro beginning with some stringed instruments, the assault begins. The sound is fat and blunt, quite traditional, and on this album bears a lot in common with Immortal's signature sound -- a low, growling and arrhythmic main riff with a blended, tremolo-picked arpeggiation on top as a lead. In past albums, they switched it up a bit, adding riffs that would be at home outside of a Scandinavian black metal album, but this time they are fewer and farther betweeen. Revelation in the Waters and Demoness with Seven Names are both choppy and tremolo, with vocals sung fairly clearly by black metal standards, while Venom of the Underworld and Rising Beast both do have a few departures from layered guitars, with thrash-style passages in a few places.

Carving a Temple is a standout on the album. Noisy and low-fi for the first seconds of the beginning until the full mix starts in, it's probably one of the best ones on the album; Svartsyn always seems to produce better songs when they use a driving beat (done in this album by a solidly competent guest drummer, Hammerman), and this track is one of those. The final (and title) track, Black Testament, is very good as well; it's actually shorter than the majority of the other tracks, but its skittery tremolo guitar passages on the verses, with the double-kicked drums battering at the listener's ears with all they are worth, seem to go on much longer.

This isn't an amazing black metal album, and I'd rate their previous work as higher except for a few tracks, but it is quite good and competently done. If one is a fan of second-wave traditional black metal, Black Testament should definitely be checked out.

Killing Songs :
Venom of the Underworld, Carving a Temple, Rising Beast, Black Testament
Andy quoted 73 / 100
Other albums by Svartsyn that we have reviewed:
Svartsyn - The True Legend reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Svartsyn - Wrath Upon the Earth reviewed by Charles and quoted 87 / 100
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