That I have a soft spot for Folk Metal is widely known, so when I received the news that one of my favourite labels, Napalm Records, signed a new band of this style from Denmark, I was intrigued. Now I have SVARTSOT’s debut “Ravnenes Saga” and reading that they have a flute in the line up did nothing to dampen my spirits, quite the contrary, but this is not your regular Folk Metal that you usually encounter in these parts…
Founded in Randers only in 2005 from the ashes of a band called SKOLL, SVARTSOT released two demos before signing with Napalm and to call their sound Folk Death Metal would not be all that wrong, as Claus B. Gnudtzmann’s vocals are as Death Metal as they get, a lot lower than what we usually are treated to and technically quite a bit lower than I normally have a tolerance for myself, but thankfully in the context of this album they still fit in.
The flute is one of the definitive lead instruments on “Ravnenes Saga”, leaving its distinct imprint on basically every track, but SVARTSOT make sure to keep the heaviness intact not to lose track of the Metal in their genre. Opener “Gravøllet” sets out with these almost tribal like drums and cool guitars, which remind me a little of AMON AMARTH, before the flute sets in and fully kicks this powerful track into motion, I love this track and if an opener already manages to get you into its grip like this, you know (or rather hope) that it is going to continue like that.
And thankfully the Danes have not yet blown their creative gun powder, because they continue strong, be it the almost Humppa-like rhythm of “Nidvisen”, the heavy and powerful “Jotunheimsfærden”, the thunderous and mighty “Bersærkergang”, straight “Festen” or dynamic “Skovens Kælling“, we get variety as well as a unifying feeling that probably will be perfect for the live environment, but works out great on CD as well!
“Ravnenes Saga” is an excellent debut album and manages to sound original in a style that of late has seen a lot of population, the only stepping stone for many might be the very deep growls, but if you can live with them, you’ll be rewarded with a great album, point blank!
(Online December 24, 2007)