This month I had the good fortune to be contacted by an up & coming Canadian record label, HSP Productions. This Quebec-based outfit has been slowly gaining some traction in the metal underground, and sent me six of their most promising releases for review. Those are: Demonolator, Hell Crucificator, Iapethos, Outre Tombe, Sights of War, and Svalbard. Please feel free to check them all out this month.
In Svalbard we have a Canadian band named after an archipelago in the Arctic Sea; the northernmost piece of Norway. It’s appropriate, then, that the band’s music is equally Norse in nature: pure cold Norwegian black metal. A little history lesson on the band: they have been around for a little more than a decade, filling in the years with an assortment of live albums, splits, and an EP. THE FALL is the Svalbard’s first full-length studio release.
As you’d expect, THE FALL is filled to the brim with hateful black metal; well-executed and furious. The band even includes a cover of a Tsjuder song (“Malignant Coronation” – good song, well covered). Most of the album is quick blasts of black metal, comparable to anything that came out of the scene in the 1990s. Fortunately the band is wise enough to vary things a bit by including two nine-minute songs (“For the North” and “WAR”) and an acoustic respite (well played by guest musician Ulroth), keeping the album from becoming dull. Album closer “Les Parcours De L\’Âme” also includes some nice acoustic work before bringing the album to an end with quiet chanting and whispers.
As solid as the album is, there isn’t anything I can pick out that makes Svalbard stand out from the blackened hordes. I guess the fact that black metal isn’t the oversaturated mess it was about ten years ago helps them quite a bit, as there is a refreshing quality to the music. That alone can’t completely elevate the band though, and I think more seasoning and writing of memorable riffs will go a long way. The variety in the music shows that they are not afraid to be more than “Marduk 2″, so I’m hopeful that future efforts will show a band continuing the grow.
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