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Severoth - Vsesvit Award winner

by Chris Hawkins at 10 January 2021, 4:29 PM

Writing about Heavy Metal from around the globe can present some challenges at times when it comes to pronunciation, but this week’s album, “Vsesvit,” from SEVEROTH seems to take the prize for most unapproachable word yet.  While it may sound cliché; music is a universal language so linguistic troubles do not really matter at the end of the day.  SEVEROTH hails from Ukraine, a country that has been represented by some prolific Metal in recent years.  Whether it is the climate or the political turmoil I know not, but like Poland and Finland, Ukraine is a hot bed for Metal that pushes the boundaries of convention.  SEVEROTH, no exception, is a one-man project that excels in creating captivating Atmospheric Black Metal.

The first track, “Far Above the Sky,” is an excellent choice as opener for it essentially functions as a mission statement.  The listener is thus introduced to an enthralling mix of gorgeous, lush textures via the layering of keyboards along with guitars.  While this is categorized as Atmospheric Black Metal, the Classical training and influence displayed by SEVEROTH’s musical versatility is simply undeniable.  There is a marked sense of atmosphere, a blending of dark fantasy with a strain of the esoteric, musical archetypes employed for ages that are pleasing to the ear.  The mix of clean vocals with syncopated double bass and a huge melody via the keyboards at the seven-minute mark appears to be a major climax of the song yet the remaining half does not slip into forgettable fare rather carrying one’s attention throughout.

Atmospheric Black Metal may seem like a genre that is becoming overcrowded and in many ways that is true yet that does not mean there are not huge areas of work that can still be done.  SEVEROTH is proof of this.  “Vsesvit” is an album that reflects the vision of one man, a truly impressive feat from someone with a clear vision for his art.  This is an album that is more than a mere collection of songs for despite the language barrier, the music conveys a plot of sorts as developed by the myriad themes and emphasized by the deft use of dynamics.

The second track continues the immersive experience.  The frenetic pace of the music allows the chords to really ring out whether through the tremolo picking or the sharp, incisive spikes of keyboards.  There is an emotional tug at work here too as the chords, particularly in the latter part, convey a sadness or longing.  One could even make the comparison to some of the classic work of ANATHEMA, though much slower, yet still a parallel in their implementation of massively impassioned sections that appeal directly to the heart.  Yet again, music transcends spoken language.

The production employed, while not pristine, allows for a clear representation of the artist’s musical vision.  The only criticism I have is that there is so very much going on, but like EMPEROR, SEVEROTH rises to the occasion insisting on the primacy of that overarching vision.  That sort-of-clutter is actually part of the album’s charm in that it is a definite throwback to the mid to late ‘90s when the spirit of innovation was high in the Black Metal scene.  That sense of eerie mysticism is omnipresent recalling those bitter cold winds of decades past along with the memories they carry with them.  While some of those bands made saccharine-soaked Symphonic Black Metal, others embraced the pioneering spirit beyond cheesy horror movie tropes and redundant orchestra hits.  SEVEROTH reminds me much more of those bands that really pushed the envelope a couple of decades ago (see LIMBONIC ART, ULVER, and TARTAROS) than the current crop of bands playing “ear-friendly” Black Metal.

This is an album that like a good novel or film, progressively becomes more consuming.  It is really with the third track, “Emptiness,” that the momentum picks up.  SEVEROTH has an amazingly epic, hypnotizing sound, one that while easy to follow, offers consistent rewards to the patient, keen ear.  From start to finish, this is like a journey, a hero’s journey of self-discovery with just enough familiarity to get ensnared within the milieu.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Far Above the Sky
2. Unwritten Letters
3. Emptiness
4. Silver Dawn of Spring
5. Coldness of Sad Eyes
Severoth - Everything
Record Label: Avantgarde Music


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