Khold – Svartsyn Review

It’s been a long time since Norway’s Khold had any relevance for me. In the early ’00s, Khold was on regular rotation on ole Grier‘s Discman. The band’s first three albums came out between 2001 and 2004, and I was there to buy each when the local record store doors opened. Khold combines Carpathian Forest-esque black ‘n’ roll, Satyricon accessibility, and Darkthrone-like sinisterness that molded Grier‘s tiny heart into a lump of coal for nearly a decade. Then, 2014 saw the end of the band. During this time, the crew resurrected their thrashy black metal counterpart, Tulus.1 Which felt like a somewhat natural progression following Khold‘s odd 2014 swansong, Til endes. Also, the band’s founder/drummer found success with Darkthrone‘s Nocturno Culto, releasing album after Sarke album. Fast forward to 2022, and the boys are back. They reunited with some familiar faces and the addition of Tulus‘ stellar bassist, Crowbel. Will Svartsyn pick up where Til endes left off? Or, will this new effort return my crusty heart to its natural state?

Well, neither. If anything, Svartsyn gets me amped. The time spent away from the Khold moniker, focusing on their work with Sarke and Tulus, has done these Norwegians good. While Svartsyn is very much Khold, there are plenty of instances of the group’s other bands in the album’s makeup. Specifically those rocking, hard-hitting riffs of Tulus and the mind-fucking blackness of Sarke. And where the songwriting of Tulus fails, it shines on Svartsyn—specifically with Crowbel’s gargantuan bass presence. And I can’t ignore the signature snarls that Gard only seems to unleash when he puts on his Khold garb.

“Apostel” is a proper opener that triggers my Khold blood and gets my head banging. Its sick groove and Tom Warrior-ish vocal arrangements get Svartsyn going in a hurry. And when the chorus hits, I’m lost to the world. Equally as catchy is the mighty “Skarpretter.” After a rocking drum intro, the guitars take hold with a gnarly black ‘n’ roll march that would put a devilish smirk on Nattefrost’s face. As those pinched pluckings feel like they’re going to snap, everything stops. Then, they resurface with even more angst than before. When you think the song has ended, it shifts into high gear. The riffs change, the attitude intensifies, and the piece concludes with the most headbangable outro on the record. But no Svartsyn review is complete without highlighting the fun, upbeat “I Demonens Bok.” Like the opener, the vocals and guitars add powerful emphasis to the drum hits, while the slick bass lines ensure the chuggy groove stays on the track.

While there are plenty of moments like this on Svartsyn, you’ll also find droney, doomy, gloomy numbers like “Helligdom av Døde” and closer “Bryt i Udåd Ut.” The former is a mid-paced track with spooky, reverberated guitars and unsettling vocals bringing to mind Aldrahn’s performance on The Deathtrip‘s 2014 beauty, Deep Drone Master. But it’s in the back half of the song that things get interesting. The guitars and drums kick hard, unleashing a smooth groove that develops a sinisterness with that distant melodic guitar lead. The closer opens with a Sunn O)))-esque drone that gives way to Darkthrone-like doom. While not as memorable as “Helligdom av Døde,” “Bryt i Udåd Ut” has a pleasing black metal pace that gathers strength from dissonant guitars and venomous vocals.

Unfortunately, not everything works on Svartsyn. Though I enjoy the closer, concluding the album in the same hurried manner as it began would have been better. Also, cutting the standard-fare filler tracks like “Manngard” would have made for a better listening experience. That said, Svartsyn is a killer comeback for Khold and is far superior to its predecessor. The songwriting is mature, the impact is satisfying, and the performances are top-notch. The experience is even more pleasing because the production is clean and dynamic. Nowhere in these forty minutes of rocking black metal do I wish for more bass and drums. The end-product is bright, and every instrument gets a say in the chaos. If you’re a Sarke fan and didn’t realize Khold existed, it’s time to get with the program.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Soulseller Records
Websites: soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/svartsyn | facebook.com/khold.official
Releases Worldwide: June 24th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Dear Hollow, Old Old Death is good, you idiot.
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