Album Review: Svarttjern - Shame Is Just A Word
Album: Shame Is Just A Word
Genre: Black Metal
Review by Kelly Tee
2020 marks the 17th year since members of black metal Norwegian giants Carpathian Forest & Ragnarok combined their brutal and dark craft and created Svarttjern. Hailing from Oslo, this black metal project banded in 2003 and are storming back into the scene with their new album Shame Is Just A Word, after a 4-year album hiatus.
In true Svarttjern style, they wasted no time in hurling the listener into a blackened thrashy crust punk cesspool of hectic Svarttjern sounds. From the very onset of this album the first thumper track, 'Prince Of Disgust' is completely fuelled with fast-paced zero fucks and no-frills executed riffs, harshly delivered vocals, of course feeling, even more, convicting in Norwegian tongue and delivered in a style that is scathing and intense. The track to follow was a pure onslaught of rawness and temper as the album ramps up toward a nostalgia of 90's black and thrash sounds. This is exactly what I had hoped for when I heard that Svarttjern was set to plague us with Shame Is Just A Word, which releases January 20, 2020.
Moving ahead from the first two steadfast and dissolutely themed tracks, I was surprised to find a calmer moment (albeit short), within the guitar intro to 'Melodies Of Lust'. The subtle tune is soon darkened with large guitars mimicking the once nice melody and stained it thoroughly, creating a menacing and smutty atmosphere and was deliciously inviting as it leads you into a slower tempo full of brooding detailed double kicks and the misogynistic aggression within the vocal assault supervening.
Heavier on the thrashing scale, which is prominently displayed throughout the majority of this latest album, the thrash component seemed to reach its peak within 'Ta dets Drakt'. The tempo is pulverised perfectly within this punchy banger. It is filthy heavy with a sense of agony transmitting through the intermittent yells and contrasts the scathing main vocal style so very well.
'Bonded By Blood' was a wrecking song combining some extreme elements, with thrashing riffs, crust punk/black & roll beats and a deadly and hateful black metal vocal fold. I love what Svarttjern created within this track, complete with the drum track boasting obscurity and changing up the rhythm direction out of nowhere.
The surprise amongst the staunch nature of this album was track 5, 'Frost Embalmed Abyss'. Here, the band displays that of a more traditional black metal sound with tremolo picking guitars, and an eviler sounding approach, constructing a more melodic flow and yet, they do so without losing the roughneck, hard-knock speed, and abruptness, which aligns this one to the rest of the album.
Shame Is Just A Word is an 8 track barrage of filthy and abstruse blackness, smothered in gritty and vicious lyrics and it is oh so good. Svarttjern has kept their sound somewhat familiar for fans, having not produced anything too far removed from their signature fast, aggressive and true Norwegian sound, however, do expect this album to be expanded to a point with the introduction of some newer arrangements and feeling more like war compared to their 2014 release, Dodsskrik.
At the end of it all, this is a brutish album, one which has been written without care for nice tones, emotive melodies or pleasant themes and is most certainly a solid and violent black thrashing old school listen.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Shame Is Just A Word is out January 17th via Soulseller Records.