Svartsyn has technically been around since 1991, starting up under the name Chalice, but essentially having the same basic line-up. Ornias, currently the sole member of the band, has remained on the peripheries of the Swedish Black Metal scene for the better part of two decades. While this band has put out LP after LP (Black Testament is album number eight), mainstream recognition and acclaim has been elusive. In a scene as overcrowded and as saturated as Black Metal, getting recognized and breaking out from the pack is a tough thing to do. Still, Svartsyn has garnered a fair sized following over the years. Picking up where 2012’s Genesis of Deaths Illuminating Mysteries EP left off, Black Testament starts with your basic tuneless violin intro and things descend quickly into Hell from there. While the playing is sometimes choppy and the transitions between riffs are hit or miss, particularly in “Revelation in the Waters,” the general tone of the album is positively vile. Svartsyn has a sound that reminds me somewhat of old Marduk or maybe Triumphator in terms of speed, but with a more droning Black Metal song structure. While it isn’t musically all that original, the combination of Ornias vomiting forth some of the most rancid Black Metal vocals this side of Purgatory, and the dark and churning guitars makes Black Testament work. I swear, Ornias has a voice that is so evil sounding that he could probably make a One Direction cover into something dark and twisted. In spite of the obvious flaws, I find myself liking this LP anyway. This band reminds me a lot of old Beherit in that while the music may not be perfectly executed, it has an abundance of feeling and atmosphere. That more than makes up for the shortcomings on Black Testament. This is definitely one to check out.
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