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Grafvitnir - Semen Serpentis Award winner

Semen Serpentis
by Erika Kuenstler at 24 January 2015, 11:43 PM

Whilst themes of Satanism are nothing new in the genre of Black Metal, it’s not every day you come across bands that incorporate more than just a perfunctory “Hail Satan” into their music. One exception to this fashion of token devil worshipping is GRAFVITNIR. Active practitioners of the dark arts, these Scandinavian Occult Black Metallers weave tales of serpentine lineages and ancient opponents of light in their newly released second full-length album, “Semen Serpentis”.

The intro track “Where Time Has Ceased To Be” is a freezing tempestuous hailstorm of torment that goes straight for the jugular, setting the tone for the rest of the album. The sweeping tremolo pics combined with infernal riffs and crypt-like gravelly vocals soon have spectral icy fingers sending shivers down your spine, paralysing you with their icy torment. After such a shattering first track, one is left to wonder if GRAFTVITNIR can keep up the standard for the duration of an entire album. And as you wait with bated breath, “Descendants of the Serpent” comes thundering in, effortlessly matching any expectations built by the previous track.

“Av Ormens Blod” sees the first song of the album in the band’s native language, giving the relentless track a sinister atmosphere, whilst the more melodious undertow half way through throws in an interesting twist that keeps the album fresh. Perhaps my favourite song on the album comes at the pinnacle of the album: “Sword of the Damned”: melding a swirling whirlwind of tremolo pics with some frantic drum work and interesting riffage based on the Egyptian Scale, this song plummets through the depths of chaos. After a brief reprieve half way through, the second part of the song is just as relentless as the first, before giving way to some almost groovy guitar sections that really bring the song to life. Things are taken down a notch on “Poisonous Streams of Hraunn”, which gives the album a beautiful acoustic intermission before the chaos resumes. The fragile tranquility woven by this brief rest is then shattered by the almost DARK FUNERAL-like tumultuous onslaught of “Seed of Apep”. An absolutely stunning track; check it out below! Ending off with the same furry that marks the rest of the album, “Vilddjurets Återkomst” is a final maelstrom

Some people might claim that “Semen Serpentis” is perhaps slightly more polished than Black Metal ought to be, but this would only hold true for those who cling to the ideals of old. Whilst this album is perhaps not earth shattering or genre defining in its ingenuity, who cares? It nevertheless is a very good album that strikes the perfect balance between furious paced tempos and seething sepulchre grandiosity. If you’re a fan of bands like SVARTTJERN then this band is definitely worth checking out.

4 Star Rating

1. Where Time Has Ceased to Be
2. Descendants of the Serpent
3. Av Ormens Blod
4. Sword of the Damned
5. Poisonous Streams of Hraunn
6. Seed of Apep
7. Vilddjurets Återkomst
Record Label: Carnal Records


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Edited 28 January 2023

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