Towards the Ultimate

Norwegian black metallers Svarttjern (which means ‘black tarn’) are back with their second full-length, Towards the Ultimate, a follow up to 2009’s Misanthropic Path of Madness.  The band is the brainchild of vocalist HansFryste, who is also the front man for Ragnarok.  In addition to taking a lot from that band, if you’re a fan of Dark Funeral or 1349, this album should also be right up your alley.

The first few tracks lay the foundation for Svarttjern’s very groove heavy brand of black metal, which will also appeal to fans of death metal.  The guitars are handled by Haan and Fjellnord, with Terror on bass and Grimdun manning the skins (what is it with black metal’s penchant for members with only one name?)  The riffs, while solid, consist mainly of scale runs, palm mutes and mid-paced chugs.  I don’t listen to a whole lot of black metal, but some icy, soaring guitar solos are one thing about this genre that I felt has always added to its appeal.  None of those really stuck out on this album.  Terror’s bass is mixed very well, and helps to add a lot to the bottom-end heaviness of the album.  Grimdun is solid but unspectacular, with plenty of double bass runs backing up the guitar riffs quite nicely.

The groove in this album will get your head moving, that’s for sure, but after a few spins I was left with a sense of sameness with this album.  A track-by-track breakdown of this album would be kind of redundant as there is not a whole lot of variation in this one.  But if I did have to pick one standout, it would be “I Am the Path Part II”.  The track starts out with a solid mid-paced guitar riff before the vocals come in; some blast-based tempo changes, then things are brought full circle by ending with the opening scale run.  This track nicely packages up all the elements of Svarttjern’s brand of black metal.

The production is solid on this album so it might not appeal to fans of raw, kvlt black metal.  But there is plenty of blasphemy to be enjoyed here and these guys have put together a solid–if a bit unmoving–sophomore record.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kevin E
September 19th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Jesse Wolf

    Never heard of these guys but checking them out now. In the mood for something blackened. Great review brutha

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