Svartidauði – “Revelations Of The Red Sword” (Ván Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Aptly named from their native Icelandic for ‘black death’, Svartidauði have been in formation since 2012, whereupon they released their debut “Flesh Cathedral” and despite their remote location, have been active on both the touring front across Europe as well as putting out a number of EPs until this sophomore. Long awaited by many and especially those who’ve witnessed their intense concerts, I can see why given the incredible work on show here. With a massive soundscape as mesmerising as their own land of fire and ice whose contrasts are brilliantly reflected in the music here, expect nothing short of an incredible experience both to shock but equally enthral in the spectacular sound that at times verges on trance going well beyond the core of black metal. And all this from just 3 guys! With Magnús Skúlason’s magnificent percussion providing both the double bass drumming propulsion along with some very creative tribal beats, Þórir Garðarsson’s guitar sounds like the work of an entire berserker battalion, relentlessly chundering out cold metallic riffs, clanging melodies and pagan solos par excellence while the lycanthropic roars and howls of Sturla Viðar Jakobsson only add to the visceral, pagan atmosphere of the 6 deep tracks here. Opening with full adrenaline on the blinding ‘Sol Ascending’, the powerful pagan melodies are prominent from the outset but soon impressively take nordic form, clanging away blissfully as Jakobsson’s hoarse drawls glide along while Skúlason works up sweat through his energetic backfills and creative rhythms – yes, the man is that busy! Continuing the drive into an even more heavy cyclone on ‘Burning Worlds Of Excrement'(!), the song explods into a savage blast beat with all the band taking it to the max, along with my own racing heart, as Garðarsson unleashes even more dark melodies and evil breaks before slowing for the crushing chorus – it’s nothing short of a fierce arctic sea storm. After all the raging, ‘Wolves Of A Red Sun’ might be slower, but it’s even heavier thanks to the Skúlason’s massive drum sound, not to mention even more atmospheric thanks to the brilliant brooding guitar work of Garðarsson, topped off by the husky drawls of Jakobsson, which as the tempo intensifies, brings you ever closer to mental collapse. A magnificent return for Svartidauði on yet another cutting edge release from Ván Records!