Tvende Ravne 
Hedens Dotre
Spillemandens Dåse
Skovens Kælling
Skønne Møer 
Brages Bæger 
Havets Plage 




Claus B. Gnudtzmann - Vocals

Chris J.S. Frederiksen -  Guitar and Mandolin
Stewart C. Lewis - Whistles and Bodhran
Martin Kielland-Brandt - Bass

Niels P. Thøgersen - Drums


SVARTSOT: "Ravnenes Saga svartsot           

European release date:  02.11.2007

Recorded and mixed by: Jacob Hansen at Hansen Studios, Denmark.
Assistent engineer: Michael Hansen. Mastered by: Peter in de Betou. Tailormaide, Sweden.

preview  by dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo ___             


Is the great north wind 

who made the Vikings?



Is the great north wind who made the Vikings? Maybe. And how we imagine them? We imagine them fearless and threatening, warriors ready for conquering a and plundering but also influencers of nations and agents for Nordic culture. Traders and warriors devoted to Wotan. Defenders of the old Gods during the Christianization. Soon  the Drakkar society will "mix" with Celtic, Roman and other Germanic customs, but, before this happens,  horned helmets (although there is no  evidence that they were worn out from ritual ceremonies), skulls, beer and swords near the fires, among mountains and sea, are savage and alone in our imagination. Danish Svartsot makes Vikings alive again , picturing Norse sagas with menacing elements of Melodic Death, Melodic Black and Thrash and the good mood of Folk metal. Rarely i have heard a Folk metal so catchy yet chosen, with such awesome growling vocals, with such a constant ambush and drive and push, mixed to an apparent unworried mood. "Ravnenes Saga" is Svartsot's debut album, released by the Austrian Napalm Records: a first full length that crowns a very rapid success. Svartsot started in 2005 in Randers (DK), and just in two years prepared two demos and this debut, on the wings of a great acclamation (not only in Denmark) confirmed live then, after concerts as those with Illdisposed and Mercenary. In Ravnenes Saga (Ravens' Saga) each song transmits forceful motion, each song is a true ear-worm. Svartsot can be placed in the wake of Turisas, but there is no progressive element, there is no symphonic background, only direct heavy strikes, anthems,  and nice melodies that can turn into something sinister in every moment. Nor Svartsot's music enters in the imaginative of battle metal , i would say it's a kind of "pre" or "post" battle , always waiting for a storm after the storm. 



The vein of the elected "berserkers" is there even in the more unstressed  moments. The lyrics, inspired by traditional Danish mythology and by popular stories linking to the Edda follow, in my opinion,  this schema of telling,  like a spectator could transmit a chronicle. But don't think that there is no involvement in the things described. The song number 3 Nidvisen, is one of the most satured in action at the border to uptempo Thrash/Death with choruses and potent guitar riffs. The anthem songs Jotunheimsfærden (from the demo Svundne Tider 2006) and Skønne Møer (from the demo Tvende Ravne) are fantastic moments of dominance and tradition where the musical impact is immediate. In these songs  too, as we find throughout the album,  vocals are balanced between mighty threatening roaring growling and evil severe screams, and folk elements are mixed with Black, melodic death, and old-school roots. Drums are often thunderous and arise the tempest for raw guitars, sweetened and ethicized by Stewart's typical whistles, that become immediately one of the manufacture stanps of the band. Actually the folk touch is not only given by the lyrics in mother tongue Danish and by the choruses that build the sense of the tribe, but also by the flute that is used like a lead guitar, accompanying very often the melodies, yet discretely fading out in the most violent and crushing riffs. I would like to spend a couple of words more for Skønne Møer, because this track has a memorable outro, that turns the heavy folk mood definately into a minacious, minatory, perturbing promise, thanks to the obscure cadenced pounding sound. In that way is clear what i mean when i say Svartsot put us permanently in ambush. 
The whole stuff is a pleasure even for the extreme metallers that don't usually like Folk. From the hammering very heavy opener Gravøllet and the following excellent, remarkable, creeping Tvende Ravne, till the sea of Havets Plage that closes the cd, each track is a step into an adventurous episode of the Norse world. All refrains, verses, bridges and loops are hooks that catch in a companion communion, but besides they pierce and scrape with a subtle terror. Take for this another example of cadenced grave fear:  the song Berserkergang, with incredible bass tunes. Arpeggios of acoustic guitars and great protagonism of the flute open Hedens Dotre, a true masterpiece, but not for that we have become romantic, indeed immediately the dark arises with hellish growls and sinister percussions and double bass. Festen is a mosh invoking fast paced appealing hit, fantastic for fans of melodic Death. The less folk of all, just metal embrace (with some hints of heavy metal also). Under other circumstances, and other guitar set, Spillemandens Dase could be a song from the Swiss Darkmoon. Moreover guitars and whistles entwine deliciously. 


Although some tracks are "imported" from the demos, many others are new and however all songs are very recent, mirroring the work of the band mainly done this year and the last one. And i think that  the demo tracks are re-played and, of course, re-mixed and re-mastered with attention to all sound details, in particular to the echoes. Therefore this debut represents also the coherence of an era. As mentioned before, this "saga", which passes also  through a quest done by the gods Thor and Tyr (Jotunheimsfærden),  ends with Havet Plage (The scourge of the Sea), which is a picture of piracy taking place in a fjord, where an agile warship is waiting for a southern cargo laden with gold. You can imagine what happens in a fight between peaceful cargo seamen and plunderers. Plunderers that, historically, went to almost all corners of Europe and reached then those warm southern seas, so far from the Nordic fogs. 

Hvæsset klinge så blanke som sølver spejler solens lys,
Havet farves rødt med blod

Sharpened, polished blades glint in the sunlight, and the sea is coloured red by the blood  (thanks to Stewart Lewis for myspace blogs with translations) 

Make these spectacular blades yours, make the black plague yours , pick up Ravenes Saga and ...gallons of mead!


Rating: 9,6/10 



dalia di giacomo  03.10.2007


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