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Hypothermia - "Svartkonst" (CD)

Hypothermia - "Svartkonst" CD cover image

"Svartkonst" track listing:

1. Invokation
2. Svartkonst
3. Efterglöd
4. Regnvals
5. Vy

Reviewed by on August 10, 2015

"This is more a 'headphones on, deep in concentration' album than a 'rock it in your car' sort of disc. It's a journey that doesn't go anywhere because its already arrived, so if you're willing to accept that, plug in and turn it up."

Moving past the typical black metal presentation, “Svartkonst” is a very different kind of musical journey. Rather than assaulting with aggressive blast beats and abrasive screams, or bowling over with crushing guitars, Hypothermia takes the listener deep within their own minds for an incredibly introspective experience.

The “Invokation” gets started with atmospheric, twangy guitars and cymbal taps that bring to mind the soundtrack to a dark T.V. show like True Detective, lulling in the audience with a hypnotic musical pattern. Normally this would explode into some full-force black metal, but instead Hypothermia slowly adds in extra layers and textures, putting distortion on the guitars but keeping the same riff going. It's much more restrained than what may be expected, but it works.

While completely lacking in vocals and on slightly on the depressive side, “Svartkonst” manages to be more interesting than the typical ambient instrumental album with its clear black metal influences. The songs are lengthy by black metal standards, but less monstrous than the shoegaze or ambient norm, sitting around 6-8 minutes. There's enough time to be drawn into the hypnosis, but not enough to get bored or wish the ride was over already.

A few parts probably would hit home harder if there were some tortured screams erupting out of the background to amp up the tension, but overall this understated approach pays off by building up slowly. The melancholy sounds keep up for the whole album, with only slight variations in chord progression occurring across the tracks to keep the music moving forward while remaining grounded in a unifying idea.

Obviously the lack of blast beats and typical blistering pacing isn't going to work for everyone, but then again I went into the album expecting to be bored to tears and instead found a new favorite release. This is more a “headphones on, deep in concentration” album than a “rock it in your car” sort of disc. It's a journey that doesn't go anywhere because it has already arrived, so if you're willing to accept that, plug in and turn it up.

Highs: These understated sounds will take you deep inside yourself if you give them the chance.

Lows: There are no blast beats, fast paced guitars, or harsh vocals, so if you are looking for typical black metal this isn't where you want to be.

Bottom line: Hypothermia takes black metal on an understated, ambient journey to nowhere.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)