When asked to name the best Metal bands from Australia, most people you’d meet on the street would volunteer AC/DC and then wander off silently. Those you meet who know what Metal is however, might suggest a band named VIRGIN BLACK as one of the best from Down Under.
What a coincidence it is then that the lead man on vocals and guitar is a former member of VIRGIN BLACK, albeit only for a couple of years and there is no real musical comparison between the two bands. The one thing that they have in common, and the one thing I find most appealing, is the challenging nature of their music and the all-round quality and individuality of their albums.
It is rare these days to come across new Black Metal that can still kick you in the face in that careless way it did over a decade ago; so many bands these days try to "stay true to their roots" and maintain the “sound” that Black Metal is supposed to have, but end up in a box with many other pretenders. This is not the case with SYNNÖVE and it might be for the simple reason that “The Whore And The Bride” can’t simply be described as Black Metal. They blend the sights and sounds of Black, Death and Doom Metal, with bands like EMPEROR, BATHORY, MY DYING BRIDE and ARCTURUS obvious influences. How? By using the best these bands have to offer to their influential advantage and creating something with a Doom-laden atmosphere, with the malevolence of Black Metal and the thumping drive of Death Metal. On the vocal front, there is an uneven mixture of screams, that reminded me a bit of Ihsahn of EMPEROR and clean vocals, that in turn reminded me of the soaring voice of ICS Vortex, as heard in DIMMU BORGIR, ARCTURUS etc, rounded off by some backing female vocals. There are a few quieter moments on the album where the clean vocals are particularly effective, like a sombre reflection on the chaos before, it adds a sense of epic to the atmosphere that takes you to the icy north and the age of Vikings. Even in its diversity, the music is very authentic and a lot can be said in comparison to the age of late 90’s Black Metal.
The weird thing about this album is that despite its qualities, I most likely will not be carrying it around in my head for too long, the album leaves you wanting more and forever waiting for that moment of supreme greatness that will make the world around you shimmer in a Black glow. But whenever I am in the mood for some good Extreme Metal, I will browse through my library and when my attention falls on SYNNÖVE and “The Whore And The Bride” I will think to myself: “Yeah, that was awesome, add that to the playlist”, and I know I will enjoy it again. SYNNÖVE turned up the heat in 2008 with an album of note and should be one of the hottest Black Metal albums of the year.
If a stranger ever came up to me in the street to ask my opinion on quality Metal bands from Australia, I would say: SYNNÖVE.
(Online August 20, 2008)