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Review: Svartidauði - Revelations of the Red Sword
Revelations of the Red Sword

Label: Van Records
Year released: 2018
Duration: 47:32
Tracks: 6
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: December 21, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating
Revelations of the Red Sword

Rated 3.57/5 (71.43%) (7 Votes)

Iceland has really become a hotspot for great Black Metal these days, developing a scene that’s comparable to the old French Black Metal scene of the mid 2000s both in quality and in sound. Svartidauði (Icelandic for Black Death) are among the first luminaries of this scene, with many holding their debut full-length, Flesh Cathedral, as the catalyst for it back in 2012, and even today they are still held as one of the very best Iceland has to offer. I’m only familiar with their follow-up, Revelations of the Red Sword, but if it’s anything to go by, then I’d say their fans are absolutely correct.

Like many of their country-mates that they undoubtedly inspired, Svartidauði work in a very murky, technical vein of Black Metal that’s most immediately comparable to Deathspell Omega, only they stand out in a sea of imitators by incorporating an epic, expansive melodic sensibility not too far removed from what Blut Aus Nord did on the Memoria Vetusta trilogy. The often-lengthy songs are led by harsh, dissonant guitar work that is supported by a relentless rhythm section and distorted howls that are almost buried underneath the intensely chaotic sound. Like many bands in this vein, Svartidauði’s music could be mistaken for a wall of incomprehensible noise if not for the undeniable complexity of their arrangements and playing, but this just gives way to the stunning melodic work that bursts out of it like fire on a frozen field and energizes the compositions without ever being anything less than cold and sinister.

As the Icelandic scene continues to grow and flourish, it’s heartening to see that one of its forebears was capable of keeping up with it long after they first helped to create it. The band has gone quiet for some time now, so there’s no telling if we’ll ever hear from them again, but if Revelations of the Red Sword ends up being their swansong, I couldn’t think of a more fitting end for a band as important and impactful as they are. Essential.

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