SVARTSYN were formerly known as CHALICE, but they date back to 1991 regardless. And as one may infer from said date, there are definitely second-wave elements present on “Bloodline,” even though it’s a re-release that was originally recorded between September 1997 and October 1998. This is, above all, a ripping portion of BM. Like so many of their contemporaries – still going strong, by the way – SVARTSYN are reliable and capable of providing accelerated songs, filled with nuances.
This trio is faster than DARKTHRONE, but these Swedes still favor the grim and fuzzy approach that was practically coined by the influential Norwegians. Or perhaps it was simply popularized by them. Whatever the case, the driving nature of these 11 songs will undoubtedly cast a spell on the listener. However, with each one coming in at four or five minutes, it drags by the time you reach the end. I’ve praised it before and I’ll do it again: “Terrordemon” is a terrific opening number. While the pace is quick, it never reaches the blinding speed achieved by groups such as 1349, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, or IMMORTAL. Ornias’s (vocals, guitars) shrieks blend in with the instrumentation, but the poisonous effect is all the same. Factoring in Draugen’s (ex-DARK FUNERAL) rousing drum accompaniment only increases the overall worth of “Bloodline.” And furthermore, when SVARTSYN shift to another passage – with a gamut of interesting drum fills and priceless keyboard interjections lighting the way – all seems right with the world. “Vampyric Sleep” is nothing less than arresting, since its commencement features such remarkable riffing. Nevertheless, the production isn’t stellar. Luckily, the production succeeds in not detracting from the experience and if you thought the production values of “Bloodline” were terrible, wait until you hear the two bonus tracks from the “Tormentor EP.” Still, the good songwriting shines through relatively unscathed.
More often than not, it takes an exemplary BM record to both captivate me from song-to-song and hold my interest during its entirety. SVARTSYN do reasonably well in either category, though I unfortunately grow weary of them by the time I hit the last cluster of opuses. Occasionally the music becomes a blur, but for the most part, “Bloodline” is a respectable entry into speedy, raw Black Metal. While not necessarily a must-buy, this is just one example of BM done well. Pretty good! (Online March 6 2006)