Svarttjern – Shame Is Just A Word (Soulseller Records)

Monday, 27th January 2020
Rating: 7.5/10

Here in the NOVA area winter is more of a baleful glance than it is ever a serious threat. So it’s always refreshing to encounter new solid black metal experiences during the winter to remind me that winter is still real somewhere, if only in the icy works of misanthropology from groups like Svarttjern.

Shame Is Just A Word is very much a thrash-influenced take on black metal not all that dissimilar from what 1349 is now doing, delivered with the same acidic focus and rare melodic indulgence. It’s fast, it’s harsh, and it is wholly economical in its execution. Being unfamiliar with the band and its history, Shame Is Just A Word comes across strangely novel for an album title and whatever the reasoning behind its use, I appreciate it.

As noted, the thrash element is strong, whether on mid-album “Ta dets Drakt” or opener “Prince of Disgust”. The former, beyond its many different riff displays, manages to offer a brief aside with a surprisingly nimble bass presence. The latter is a straight up barbwire execution. “Frost Embalmed Abyss” is exactly what you’d expect with likely nary a bit of irony and solidly so at that. “Bonded By Blood” is indeed an Exodus cover, though with its introduction rendered with menacing wind, a blackened genre staple. The band does take the time to slow down and offer a mid-paced stomp, evidenced by closer “Shame is Just a Word”, and it offers a surprising curtain call for the album as an experience.

If an abyssal pit nestled between bloodied and snowy trees is what you’re seeking, Shame Is Just A Word will deliver what you seek. It isn’t likely to change your life, but this early in the year, neither will most of those resolutions. Embrace the winter filth.

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