Revelations Of The Red Sword
Review by Fernando on June 23, 2019.
Svartidauði are the premier act of Icelandic black metal and for good reason, Flesh Cathedral is widely regarded as a modern masterpiece, the high standard for contemporary black metal and the album that almost singlehandedly put the Icelandic scene in the spotlight of extreme metal. After 6 years they return with their second full length album Revelations of the Red Sword after a string of excellent EPs and live shows.
The first thing to note about Revelations of the Red Sword is how it’s both an evolution of Flesh Cathedral but also keeping true to what made that album so good and refreshing. Controlled chaos is the best way to describe this album. At six tracks ranging from 5 to 10 minutes, the band has scale down from the opulent and overwhelming epics of the previous album to straight to the jugular songs as proven by their promo singles, creating an album that’s all killer and no filler; every song is an essential part of the album and not a single second is wasted.
The guitars and bass create the perfect wall of sound that’s punctuated by the blistering drums and the sinister vocals by frontman and bass player Sturla Viðar who is in my opinion the MVP of this album. His bass playing is much more layered than before, instead of the crushing and overpowering sound he displayed in Flesh Cathedral he now takes the lead in maintaining the songs’ ebb and flow, being much more controlled but not less savage. The intense and thundering bass riffs are still here but the majority of the focus is now handled by the guitar work of Þórir who takes center stage in the main riffs, tremolo picking and as previously mentioned the wall of sound that only Svartidauði can do; a noisy, violent and relentless dirge of pure chaos which are then perfectly complemented by the drumming by Magnús who keeps all the songs together with a drum work that’s equal parts progressive and primitive displaying both fast blast beats and droning beats, making full use of the full kit and the double bass.
The song that perfectly encapsulates the sound and atmosphere of this album is “The Howling Cynocephali” which I also think it’s the best track of the album. All the instruments take center stage here, Svartidauði in this song and the album as a whole create a cacophonous symphony of pure bedlam displaying the true spirit of black metal as well as expanding and evolving on almost every aspect from their previous efforts, but above all it makes Svartidauði unique which is becoming harder and harder in the ever expanding world of extreme metal. This album is proof that Svartidauði deserve all the accolades they’ve received and I’m looking forward to what they do next.
Best tracks: "The Howling Cynocephalo", "Sol Ascending", "Aureum Lux"
Rating: 10 out of 10