Mysterious Svärta create odd mix of black metal, psychedelic on excellent debut ‘Sepultus’

SvartaStop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I get a ton of promos every day. There are days when I can get upward of 10-15 albums, and considering we tackle about five per week, that’s some serious overkill of the senses. It’s impossible to keep up, it’s really easy to miss a record that ends up being celebrated worldwide much later, and it causes the stress. It’s fine. It’s a nice problem, really.

A lot of time what ends up happening is besides the albums I know I’m going to cover each week, now and again I stumble upon something for whatever reason: The album title intrigues me, the band has an interesting story, or I just magically put on the record and find something really great. The latter is what happened with Svärta’s debut record “Sepultus,” as I just happened to go there and sample the thing and ended up getting sucked right into the album. The music came from a reliable source, and the band records for A Sadness Song (an offshoot of the wonderfully diverse ATMF), so why wouldn’t it be worth my time, right? Hey, look, it’s a lot material to deal with. I’m just really happy I took time to hear the thing, because it’s been in semi-regular rotation around here, sandwiched around other stuff I need to write about.

Svarta coverThe duo—at least I assume it’s two people based on the photo you see above—reveals zero about their identities, who plays what, or anything like that. That’s fine. That’s becoming more common as we go along and people eschew revealing too much about themselves, because social media. But what they do is play a brand of raw, lo-fi black metal wrapped in psychedelics and tossed with some atmospheric post-rock. It’s a really interesting sound they’ve developed. On top of all of that, the passion with which the music is played is undeniable, and it can light a fire within you just by spending time with these six tracks that are spread out over about 41 minutes.

The album gets started with “Bråddjupets Kall” that looms like a dark storm threatening over the horizon and finally pays off that hint with strong, thick guitars, wild, manic shrieks that sound inhuman, and a pace that keeps cascading and building its intensity. The cut eventually halts and goes cold, letting a chill set in, but then it’s back to crushing fury, surging melodies, and crazed yells that color the back end of the track. “Hädanfärdens Sigill” follows, and at 8:36, it’s one of a trio of cuts that pushes the run time in the best way possible. It opens with drums killing everything in front of it, an explosion of sound, and more screaming that sound completely off the rails. Black riffs are all over, with the pace punishing and galloping hard, only to slip into a section of warmth that makes you feel an instant of calm. It’s short lived as the leads burn, the assault kicks back with life, and the vocals go from churning chants to full-blown madness again. Things are torn apart with gusto, with the last moments teetering between chaos and mental burnout. Awesome track. “Gift” does bring a breather, as this instrumental is quiet (you almost need silence around you to hear some of the elements) as it trances into the second portion of the record.

“Våndans Högborg” runs a healthy 8:50, and it slips into a clean, mind-altering psychedelic passage that spreads itself out over the first two minutes. Then everything combusts, with vicious blazing arriving and some of the most violent moments on the record taking place. The vocals are echo-warped yowls, with the pace of the song equally as crazed. The song then comes to an abrupt halt, as calmer waters trickle in, though you’re smart to this. You know what’s on the other side. So you’re at least ready for this all to blow up in your face, the vocals returning to a mangling, confrontational shriek, and the flesh-ripping playing eventually melting into dizzying serenity. “Förruttnelsens Ljuva Nektar” ignites from the start with vocals that pierce your soul and sound like they’re delivered via banshee. This devolves into psychotic gurgles and whimpers (which make me think a lot of Lifelover), with the music matching that unhinged angle and keeping things in the murk for the track’s entire run. Closer “Det Sublima Lidandet” has guitars bustling and feeling slightly classical in delivery, with echoed screams slathered over the thing. The song finds another level of fury, as the band rages forward, letting sheets of sound rain down, the vocals marring the mind, and the tempo playing mind games with you. Heavy keys dress the underneath with goth shadows, and once they take a greater role in the song, things feel ceremonial. The guitars swell, the melodies feel drowned with sorrow, and everything bleeds out, with thick, funeral-esque organs the last thing you hear.

I have no idea who is behind this madness, and I don’t know what else the members have done outside this band, if anything at all. But I do know Svärta is a great find, their “Sepultus” a hidden gem in my overflowing inbox. This band’s brand of darkness is moving and abrasive, full of emotion and torment that, language barrier aside, can infect every cell in your body. I don’t care who is behind all of this as long as I can expect more from Svärta in the future.

For more on the band, go here:

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