posted on 8/2011 By:
Svartsot formed in 2005, and is a relatively young band in the sword-slinging folk metal scene compared to seasoned veterans such as Moonsorrow, Falkenbach, and Ensiferum. Until now, they’ve also lacked the compositional complexity and catchiness of the aforementioned groups. 2010’s Mulmets Visor solidified Svartsot’s signature death/folk sound, but often came across as a bit plodding and formulaic.
Maledictus Eris is easily the band’s best album to date, and while replete with bodhrán, mandolin, and whistles galore, it also possesses a striking melo-death heaviness throughout the record. The sound has a hearty feel to it, as opposed to being overly processed and pristine. The entire album benefits from this superb production, and the drums are positioned perfectly in the mix. There are quite a few instruments to balance, and Svartsot (well, their producer/engineer) does a brilliant job of making sure that no sonic element buries another.
The darker tone makes a great deal of sense given the chosen subject matter: Maledictus Eris weaves the tale of the Black Death’s devastating rampage, and each of the eleven tracks narrates the destructive path of the disease. Not to worry though, even at Svartsot’s most somber, the album is filled with intensity, passion, and unyielding spirit. With the exception of the gently acoustic and melancholy “Spigrene” towards the end of the album, Maledictus Eris is a convivial and richly-layered offering that proves to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen despite the fact that the story itself is not wrapped up in adventurous conquests and drunken debauchery.
The only occasion where the album loses momentum is on “Farsoten Kom”, which goes for simplicity but comes across as simplistic. Svartsot quickly regains their strength with “Holdt Net Af En Tjørn”, an aggressive and inspiring tune with plenty of infectious melodic lines and tons of energy delivered by the band, especially from vocalist Thor Bager.
Has Svartsot written something completely groundbreaking? Not exactly, but the music is far from generic. There are inarguable thematic limitations within their chosen genre, but Svartsot does their best to counteract this by creating uncharacteristically weighty textures with their folk-infused traditional instrumentation. They have improved both technically and expressively with each release, and Maledictus Eris is the latest example of this achievement. With that in mind, I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what these Danes come up with next.
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