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Svartsyn - From The Underground And Below: An Interview With SVARTSYN (Ornias) - Online January 2009


SVARTSYN is a rather obscure Swedish Black Metal band that I’ve been keeping an eye (and ear!) on for quite a few years now and seeing as how “Timeless Reign”, their latest slice of “Cursed Black Metal”, has been kicking my ass on a routine basis I decided that I simply had to get in touch with the band to get some information on this mysterious act. For pure old-school Black Metal but with a healthy focus on genuinely good riffs and abyssal atmospherics you can’t go wrong with these guys. Just like their music, vocalist/guitarist Ornias’s answers were succinct and to the point. Read on if you seek enlightenment in the ways of darkness, and a quick reminder to other bands out there: as long as SVARTSYN is around you’ll simply have to try harder…   

 

Greetings, and thanks for taking time out to do this interview! Speaking of interviews, I have browsed the Internet and had a hard time tracking down interviews with SVARTSYN – are you against the idea of interviews/media exposure?

SVARTSYN is not a normal mainstream band – we represent something hidden and formless that reeks of isolation. Our hatred of the ‘slave-state’ world has made us averse to exposure, interviews etc. Our music only works for evil and our music speaks for itself and its meaning needs no explanation.
 

Not much is known about the history of the band, except that you formed in 1993 and was originally known as CHALICE. Could you please provide us with more insights into the beginnings and evolution of the cult known as SVARTSYN. Does the name carry any significant meaning?

CHALICE started back in 1991 with myself and Tormentor as members. In early ‘93 Tormentor decided to leave the band due to legal problems. I continued on and recorded a split demo, after which I ended CHALICE and changed the name to SVARTSYN. Surth (bass) and brought Surth and Draugen (drums) joined the band. SVARTSYN is a Swedish word that refers to a mental disease of a very deep pessimism. A  pessimistic outlook, if you will.

 
I consider your latest album, “Timeless Reign”, to be one of the absolute Black Metal gems of 2007, along with the likes of WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM’s “Two Hunters”, SHINING’s “Halmstad” and MARDUK’s “Rom 5:12”. It is one of those rare Black Metal albums that takes its time to develop atmosphere, with every riff (fast or slow) setting up a devastating aura of pure yet composed darkness and hate. How long did you work on this masterpiece and what goals did you set for yourself with this specific release? How do you feel about its reception?

Since “Destruction Of Man” was recorded I have been working on and off on the “Timeless Reign” material. But the band was in a phase where I didn’t know whether SVARTSYN would continue or not. The music of SVARTSYN only works for evil and the goal is inner destruction of the soul and the flesh. Our music must inspire destructive thoughts and actions. “Timeless Reign” is an album that perhaps has more “depth” than our other releases.

 

Please provide us with your thoughts on your individual albums: “The True Legend”, “...His Majesty”, “The Destruction Of Man” as well as the re-released “Bloodline”. What are your feelings on the evolution of the band’s sound, and if you were able to would you go back and change anything about those albums?

“The True Legend” was a production disaster, musically though it’s a good album. There are actually current plans to remix and re-master the album completely, as I still have the original recording tapes still left.  “…His Majesty” was the first album we produced and recorded all by ourselves, and it turned out just how we wanted it to. “Destruction Of Man” is where I think I have done my best work so far. Since the “Bloodline” recording we have really found our own sound and what we are looking for in terms of production aesthetics. We always try to create a ‘new’ sound with each album. “Bloodline” should’ve been more of a MCD as it contains old demo songs which could have been excluded, but on whole it’s a good album that showcases some of our formative material. We have gotten a lot more experienced since those songs.

 

Your split with fellow Swedish legends ARCKANUM is also quite impressive. Are there any plans do more split material with bands in the future?

There are currently no plans to do split albums with any bands. The recording you refer to remained unreleased until Shamaatae of ARCKANUM approached me with the idea of finally releasing it

 

Since Draugen (ex-DARK FUNERAL) joined the band on drums in the mid-90s the core line-up of the band has held fast, as you seem to have a good working relationship with Draugen. How have you managed this consistency and does Draugen contribute many ideas when it comes to recording new material? Who writes most of the music/lyrics in the band?

I write all of the music and lyrics while Draugen comes up with a lot of drumming- and production ideas. He is very dedicated to the music. During all these years we have had a tremendously good working relationship.

 
Speaking of lyrics, you once stated that SVARTSYN invokes “Cursed Metal Black Metal”. Do you still believe this, and what are the primary influences behind the band’s misanthropic lyrical topics?

 I have always felt that our music is cursed. SVARTSYN has always written about man’s destruction and the apocalypse. I have a hatred oo this slave-state world and that’s where my inspiration comes from. Evil have many names and many forms.

 

Please name your favorite bands, as well as your “desert island top 5”. A very clichéd question, I know, but it’s always interesting...

I don’t listen that much to music but when I do l prefer MARDUK, FUNERAL MIST, OFERMOD, MAYHEM, BURZUM, and ANTAEUS, to mention but a few. (you can’t really go wrong with that list – ed)

 

During the 90s the Swedish scene was perhaps guilty of producing too many MARDUK-clones, with nothing to offer but endless blasting and inane lyrics. Recently, however, the scene has grown into one of the leading ones in Europe along with those in France and Finland. Bands like WATAIN, OFERMOD, DEATHSPELL OMEGA (Fra) and the late great DISSECTION have injected the scene with new vigor and intelligent philosophical directions that are a far cry from the simple “Kill Christ” lyrics of yore. SVARTSYN seems to be closely tied to the Stockholm scene, correct? Where do you see your band in the Swedish “hierarchy”, so to speak?

SVARTSYN is a respected band, I guess. We have been lurking around in the shadows for a long time…

 

What do you do to keep yourself busy outside of the band?

Working and reading, pretty much…

 

Does SVARTSYN play live much or are you more of a studio project?

We do not play live that often as SVARTSYN represents something hidden although we have talked about doing maybe one or two exclusive shows with select bands. But yes, we’re more of a studio band, in that we use most of our time in the band to write, rehearse and record music. Live concerts aren’t a big concern for us.

 

Are you satisfied with the work Sound Riot Records have done for you promotion-wise? How/why did the deal with Folter Records fall through?

Folter simply did not hold their part of the agreement. I feel that Sound Riot could’ve done a bit more for the band but overall they did an OK job for us.

 

What is currently happening in the SVARTSYN camp? When can we expect new material and any idea what it might sound like? What is your long-term mission with SVARTSYN?

At the moment there are no major plans to recording anything. But I have got some new material and ideas which I am working on. It sounds are amazing so far, I think. It just sounds timeless since our music is endless. At the moment it is hard for us to say when it will be recorded
 

Well, that’s just about it. Thanks again for doing the interview and best of luck with the band. You are definitely one of the best pure Black Metal bands out there, in my humble opinion! Any last words?

Thanks for your interest in the “band”.

 

~ Thanks to Bjorn at Carnal Records for helping to set up this interview.

Discography:

1994: Rehearsal ’94 (Demo, self-production)

1995: A Night Created By The Shadows (Demo, self-production)

1997: Rehearsal ’97 (Demo, self-production)

1998: Tormentor (EP, Black Militia Records)

1998: The True Legend (Full-length, Folter Records)

1999: Promo January 1999 (Demo, self-production)

2000: …His Majesty (Full-length, Sound Riot Records)

2003: Skinning The Lambs (Demo, Carnal Records)

2003: Destruction Of Man (Full-length, Sound Riot Records)

2004: Kaos Svartna Mar/Skinning The Lambs (Split w/ ARCKANUM, Carnal Records)

1998/2005: Bloodline (Full-length, Sound Riot Records)

2007: Timeless Reign (Full-length, Carnal Records)

Neil Pretorius



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