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Album Review

Svarttjern – “Shame Is Just A Word” [Album Review]

Svarttjern remain dedicated to True Norwegian Black Metal and, if anything, are even more steadfast in their delivery of fast, heavy paeans to ancient acts of obscenity and venery on Shame Is Just a Word (Soulseller Records).



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.

This is Dayv. He writes stuff and makes being an aging goth cool again. Actually, nobody can do the latter, so let's just stick to him writing stuff. Predominantly about black metal, tattoos and other essential cultural necessities. He also makes pretty pictures, but that's just to pay the bills.