SVARTTJERN - Misanthropic Path of Madness (SCHWARZDORN - CD 2009)
Going back with my memories to 2008 (or was it 2009?? I just don’t know!) I remember that one day I’ve found a letter in my mailbox with a promo CD of completely unknown Norwegian band called Svarttjern. The name of the band didn’t ring a bell at all and the only thing, for which I recognised it was that Carpathian Forest has a song titled “Journey Through the Cold Moors of Svarttjern”. Anyway, since I’m a big fan of the Norwegian black metal scene – both old and new – I played the CD right away and to this day I remember how blown away I was by this music! At that time my favourite, currently released, Norwegian albums were the ones from Urgehal, 1349, Vidsyn, Disiplin or Taake, but Svarttjern jumped on the darkened throne next to them immediately! I just couldn’t expect a better black metal devastation and desecration than “Misanthropic Path of Madness”. My review of the album, which I wrote back then, is here http://nbc.art.pl/recenzje.php?id=1611; it’s in Polish, but just look at the rate, which I gave to it: maximum points, this band truly crushed me. By the way, I also interviewed HansFyrste and this interview is here http://nbc.art.pl/wywiady.php?id=214. I might have the English version somewhere, if I’ll find it, I’ll publish it in my blog later today.
Anyway, Svarttjern somehow remained quite silent, maybe because HansFyrste joined Ragnarok as their new vocalist and so the band wasn’t promoting the album properly? I was also quite surprised that “Misanthropic Path of Madness” didn’t get as many enthusiastic reviews as I would expect it to get. Besides, that label called Schwarzdorn isn’t the best one out there, I have no doubts that if “Misanthropic Path of Madness” came out on different label then it would probably get more recognised. Recently there’s been more publicity around the band, as they’ve signed a pact with Agonia Records and released their second LP, “Towards the Ultimate”, what was one of the reasons why I decided to listen to the debut, as I haven’t been doing that since about two years. Releasing new LP is also a cool opportunity to exhume the previous one and get massacred once again.
And I fuckin did, believe me. Right with the opening song Svarttjern slays, not bothering about taking the prisoners, just cutting their throats with excellent, fierce riffs, fast drumming and relentless aggression. “Code Human” (to which Svarttjern has also recorded a video) is definitely the best track from the whole album, it evokes an evil, cruel atmosphere right from the start and I must say that I just love those riffs and ghastly vocals of HansFyrste. Style wise I think I can say that Svarttjern sounds mainly very Norwegian; they have a lot in common with the likes of 1349, Ragnarok (is it obvious? But Svarttjern is way better in my opinion, while Ragnarok will always remain just a mediocre Norwegian band), Tsjuder plus there are few similarities to Marduk. That fast tempo, which makes the music so uncompromising and destructive, is being kept for a solid part of the album, what I like a lot, but mind that Svarttjern do not avoid slow patterns and even more melodic accents, so they try to keep the balance between all kinds of playing, which is great of corpse, as long as they manage to create a morbid, violent and menacing atmosphere. There’s never any monotony here and “Code Human”, as I already wrote, is the best song from the album, it is just a damn blast, right into your face, it’s very uncompromising and killer track. “Stillborn Acolyte” could have been taken from 1349’s “Hellfire” LP, it offers similar sort of fast devastation, with killer riffs like from “Sculptor of Flesh”! And the title song, “Misanthropic Path of Madness”, is even more uncompromising, it is just pure madness! From the other hand you’ll find here such songs as “Ancient Shadows Revelation”, which is based on slower riffing (although occasionally it also fastens to the speed of light), some of which are almost like good old Darkthrone or Gorgoroth (from “Panzerfaust” and “Under the Sign of Hell” eras).
All together “Misanthropic Path of Madness” offers seven great songs, plus one bonus track (“Ære Fra Det Indre”, which has slightly rawer production, I think), which is something like 30 minutes of Norwegian black metal cult. And I must sincerely recommend Svarttjern’s debut to all maniacs of this music; they won’t be disappointed, as this LP is just excellent, really well composed and performed and also the production of “Misanthropic Path of Madness” is great and powerful. This is just damn great record and a must to have, in my opinion. I just wonder whether it’s ever been released on vinyl or not?
Standout tracks: “Code Human”, “Misanthropic Path of Madness”, “Stillborn Acolyte”
Final rate: 90/100