Svarttjern, a well-respected part of the True Norwegian Black Metal collective, is a conglomeration of Carpathian Forest and Ragnarok members, and that’s exactly what you can expect in terms of sound: the former’s trashiness married to the latter’s thrashiness (if such a word exists). Expect a mélange of crust-punk filth, heavy metal clichés and the no-nonsense delivery of a wrecking ball. Possibly soaked in lard, cheap liquor and semen. Yes, you read that right. Shame Is Just A Word, on Soulseller Records, is by no means a pretty record, or a politically correct one. It’s a balls-out, in-your-face rollercoaster that blends rippling (albeit fairly superfluous) leads with driving riffs and a breathless barrage of percussion, all overlaid with a veneer of vocals that are more likely dredged from the pits of a cheap brothel than the circles of hell you might expect.
While this overall sonic style may be far more rooted in blackened thrash than my tastes usually cater for, I cannot deny the exhilarating experience the album affords: its sheer no-fucks-given brashness gives it a raw and brutal honesty that is sadly missing from so much music. Even 2019 releases by other Norwegian stalwarts – 1349, Mork, Mayhem – failed to evoke a primordial reaction quite as vitriolic as Svarttjern achieve. In fact, the only other True Norwegian Black Metal outfit to have come close in recent years would be the sadly now-defunct Urgehal. Factor in some drumming that so accurately captures the early days of thrash metal (think Sodom or Kreator) and you suddenly find yourself contending with a serious case of nostalgia, too – especially if you’re in an age group that remembers these things.
The album opener, “Prince of Disgust,” typifies the Svarttjern modus operandi – fast, confrontational and misanthropic.
But it’s not all violence, lechery and madness; “Frost Embalmed Abyss,” for example, is a more melodic composition that is easily comparable to classic Immortal. “Melodies of Lust” also stands out, with a more measured pace and typically treble-heavy tremolo lead riffs defining its structure.
Ten years may have passed since Svarttjern’s debut album, the nihilistic gut-punch that was Misanthropic Path of Madness, but very little has changed in terms of unwavering dedication to True Norwegian Black Metal; if anything, the band are even more steadfast in their delivery of fast, heavy paeans to ancient acts of obscenity and venery on Shame Is Just a Word.
Shame Is Just a Word Track Listing:
01. Prince of Disgust
02. Ment til å tjene
03. Melodies of Lust
04. Ta dets drakt
05. Frost Embalmed Abyss
06. Ravish Me
07. Bonded by Blood
08. Shame Is Just a Word
Run Time: 34:46
Release Date: January 17, 2019
Record Label: Soulseller Records
“Melodies of Lust” is carried on a backdrop of tortured carnal screaming that is unsettling and disturbing, but provocative.