Svlfvr Shamanic Lvnar Cvlt Cover 2016By now, the more astute of you are aware of my promo selection process. If you’re just tuning in, I select bands based on the following criteria: my own listening history of the band (naturally), the band’s back story, and their naming conventions. That last one has unearthed some amazing gems. Other times, it bit me in the ass hard. Italy’s Svlfvr (pronounced “Sulfur” and not “SVILFIVOR,” sadly) caught me with not only their name, but also their beautiful purple-and-green album cover for their debut full-length, Shamanic Lvnar Cvlt. With an eye-popping cover and complete shunning of the letter U, how does Svlfvr place in the doom metal crowd?

Thankfully, Svlfvr borrowed from some of the greats in classic doom metal, namely Solitude Aeturnus, and early My Dying Bride. The big difference here is vocalist Dionysus mostly keeps to an almost black metal rasp, and not the smooth, soaring melodies of Solitude Aeturnus‘ Robert Lowe. And when he shrieks and howls, as shown during the title track and “Wish to Drown in a Abyss of Water,” he sounds downright maniacal. I love when new vocalists add fresh ideas to a well-worn sound, and Dionysus quickly drove a stake into the earth here. The man displays some serious confidence and versatility early on.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s surrounded by a talented band. Guitarist Asmodeus effortlessly switches between tremolo riffing and somber atmospherics, giving “Wish to Drown in a Abyss of Water” an almost Shores of Null feel. His lead guitar playing, such as on the title track and “Countdown to Death,” show great restraint and very rarely overstay their welcome. Drummer Poseidon keeps the flashiness to a minimum, preferring to let the riffing do the majority of the work. When he does step outside the box, such as on “Wish to Drown in a Abyss of Water,” it propels the song further. However, it’s Dionysus that steals the spotlight, as his distinctive howls, screams, and bellows guide the canoe through the fog.

Svlfvr Band 2016
Shamanic Lvnar Cvlt
impresses, but not without some serious flaws. For starters, the production is suffocating and brickwalled. Vrolok LaVey’s bass playing, while heavy and thick, sounds fried half of the time, as on “Countdown to Death.” Also, there’s only five songs on here, and it’s a 56-minute album, with the shortest song, “Wish to Drown in a Abyss of Water,” still clocking in at just under nine minutes. The biggest offender, closer “Dying Star’s Empathy,” clocks in at over 20 minutes. That wouldn’t be such a problem if it wasn’t the album’s weakest song, save for Asmodeus’ tasteful leads during the second half.

Still, Shamanic Lvnar Cvlt is an impressive debut from a young act with a creative spin on doom metal. With a little work and some self-editing, I see Svlfvr moving on to great things in the future. Promising, and one to keep a close eye on. Besides, that cover art is absolutely gorgeous.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Bakerteam Records
Releases Worldwide: August 5th, 2016

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Cvvl Artwvrk, tho))).

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Seems like everything this site has been reviewing these past few months has been death/black metal. I still love reading reviews of prog or power metal here, but unfortunately, this stuff is really few and far between at the moment. Not complaining (unless griping is considered such), just wondering Is the site focusing more on these type of releases, or is that just what’s coming out these days in the metal world?

    • We have no focus at all. We get stuff in, try to hit all the “big releases” and after that the staff looks for whatever interests them and reviews that.

    • We haven’t been getting all that much power metal lately but when we do I usually try to get it reviewed. Huck has been doing almost exclusively prog stuff lately.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Yeah, that’s what I figured. The two sub-genres are just in a slow spell right now (although power metal has really become a pretty small audience, too, these past few years. Sorry to be bitchy. I just have a true affinity for those two genres. Hasn’t been totally quiet on the prog front, recently, though (I adore Haken’s new album).

        • I love me some power metal but it seems less and less hots the AMG desk lately. Maybe I need to shake the pot and look harder for it going forward.

    • Kronos

      Releases have been pretty spotty for the last month or so – it seems autumn is when all of the record companies are trying to release big-name releases (Opeth, Meshuggah, DEP, Ulcerate…)

      • Oscar Albretsen

        New Opeth album! Sep. 30th?! New song on Rolling Stones website?! You, sir, just made my day.

        • Kronos

          Fools! It’s the Dillinger that’s important!

          • Oscar Albretsen

            I’m sure it’ll be awesome, too (not excited about Meshuggah or Ulcerate, though. Big names, but death/extreme to the core). Plus, the new DEP is coming out just two weeks after the new Opeth. Good times are coming!

          • Kronos

            This fall is going to be a metal turducken.

    • I’ve got a couple of power metal reviews lined up for end August/September. Hope they don’t disappoint!

  • mindbleach

    Someone should write a script to replace all u’s on this site with v’s, and vice versa.

    • Grymm

      Yov’re ovt ov yovr damn euer-louing mind, Mister/Ma’am.

    • sir_c

      But the u must become ü for proper metal creds.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Oh come on Grymmy! Did you really think anything good could result from checking out a band named Housebreaking?

    • Grymm

      You never know.

      There’s Chinchilla, and… okay, bad example.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    One thing I like about this: You can actually hear the bass.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    As I can see The Metal Archives take no shit from kvlt types and as well rounded grammar nazis have this band listed as “Sulfur” not “Svlfvr”.

    • [not a Dr]

      I guess those eye-talians still haven’t adopted that non-Latin novelty letter “u”. “V”s are way easier to carve.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        it’s all about the carving!

  • Thank you for your words about the artwork! Much appreciated

    • Grymm

      No problem. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Keep up the good work!

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I enjoyed the embedded track. Spot on review. Just wish this v nonsense would go away. Fvck Vff

  • Blueberry Balls

    Prety good stuff. Vocals are solid.