Older black metal worshippers might remember the Norwegian band Khold. It was at the beginning of the new millennium that this four-piece act from Oslo begun releasing albums. This happened with some regularity until 2008 when they released Hundre År Gammal. Then, there was a break, or at least the quartet didn’t release any new materials until 2014 release Til Endes, which was their sixth album.
Now, after almost eight years of wait, they return with their seventh full-length entitled Svartsyn (roughly translates to ‘Pessimism’). Svartsyn contains 10 tracks and spans just over 40 minutes of what I would label as ‘typical Norwegian black metal’. First thing noticeable is the production, being the work of famous Andy La Rocque (assisted by Peter Granberg) at ‘Sonic Train studios’. They did an fantastic job here, the album very well produced, with some well-placed drums, guitars and vocals much up-front in the sound, and the bass successfully separated from the rest of the instruments. Despite of the fact that we’re dealing with an old-school black metal sound, Svartsyn is a very pleasant and listenable experience.
Svartsyn opens with “Apostel”, a powerful piece of black metal presenting the band and their latest opus in the best possible manner. With this thick guitar and bass work, supplemented with intense and convincing drumming and mascular, yet dark vocals, “Apostel” is a perfect song to start this journey with. “Ødslet Blot” is the next track, keeping the steady pace and robust guitars of the previous track, while injecting some nice leads, a brilliant bass-line and lots of impressive drum parts. “Evig” on the other hand is a bit groovier track, where esp. the drums and guitars are providing this solid groove. It’s coupled with some visceral yet varied vocals. “Skarpretter” shows yet another different side of Khold, containing many hard rock elements with powerful guitars, well crafted drumming and some subtle guitar work. Then comes one of my favorite tracks, “Helligdom av Døde”, being probably the slowest on the entire album, but perfectly crafted and with a lot nuances and different experimental sounds and moods. It is also characterized by the afore-mentioned superb production, where every instrument can stand on its own. “Manngard” serves as a visceral and chaotic track (at least when compared to its lengthy predecessors), with hellish vocals, addictive hooks and extremely tight and punchy drumming. “Dystopi” has again this almost trademark energetic drumming, but also some stunning riffs and this hypnotic atmospherere.
With “Demonens Bok” they turn again back a bit shorter songs, with a classic heavy rock influences, Thus, it features very diverse vocals, monstrous bass parts and sharp riffing. Like the opener “Apostel” this one also has this groovy style, which serves the overall sound well. They follows the rumbling with “Villvandre” with its chunky & thunderous sound, to grab for a listener’s attention. A finale comes with a track called “Bryt i udåd ut”, with its rather slow, doomish and funeral tempo, and venomous vocals, which perfectly concludes this record on a grandiose note.
Lyrical content deals with, and reflects, a despair and the deepest depths of the human soul. Broadly speaking, I can say that Svartsyn is an album that gets even better after each additional spin in my stereo.
With the release of Svartsyn, Khold never deviates from their Black Metal roots, but they succesfully infuse many different sounds and moods, which makes this album more than just your ordinary black metal record. Svartsyn is a much welcomed comeback for Khold, something that please all fans of the genre as well to the previous work of Khold. Thus, if you prefer your (black) metal down-tuned, rough, mid-paced, groovy and painful, then Svartsyn is a perfect choice for you!
For additional info on this particular release go to https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/svartsyn