Krvna – Sempinfernus Review

Ah, black metal, my old friend. While I’ve been spending much of 2021 either trying to get my baby daughter to smile or try to steal as much weird death metal from Kronos as possible, I can’t deny the blackened shred that settles comfortably into the crevices of my soul. I’ve long anticipated a comfortably atmospheric, aptly scathing breed of second-wave shenanigans to sink my teeth into, and there’s no time like the present. Well, that’s not entirely true trve, as acts like Pa Vesh En, Paysage d’Hiver, and Atrium have warmed me cockles quite nicely this year, but I’m looking for some simple black escapism. Will Krvna provide?

Krvna is an act from Australia, product of the mastermind who goes by the same moniker (also a member of black/death collective Dearthe). Hoping to join likeminded Aussie acts like Austere, Drowning the Light, and Woods of Desolation, Krvna offers a debut with a finger in many pies, but a platter undeniably second-wave. Sempinfernus is truly relentless, offering slathering blastbeats, fiery tremolo, and icy shrieks to drive home the epic atmosphere. Conjuring the vampiric “vampyric” likes of Mütiilation and Black Funeral with a solid percussive backbone and somber melodic template, Krvna does little to distinguish itself from the pack,1 except to do black metal passably.

The cover depicts what I would assume is the castle of Vlad Țepeș, complete with the unfortunate fate of his enemies, and Krvna embodies this vampiric homage well. Sempinfernus offers blackened atmosphere accomplished with dense and raw tremolo and starkly ominous melodies. Equally barbed and opaque, it tosses second-wave riffs galore with commanding percussion and a healthy dose of solos. Opener “From the Shades of Hades…” is easily the biggest highlight of the five songs, framing this attack with tasteful songwriting, while “…To the Targovistean Night” and “Timeless… Ageless” offer a healthy dose of doom tempos to amp up the menace. Folky melodies fused with somber atmospherics elevate “From the Shades of Hades…” and “The Eve of Eternal Sunset” above generic second-wave fodder with notes of desperation and melancholy. Overall, Sempinfernus has all the right stuff with the right amount of blackened nostalgia to keep rapt attention to its icy and bloody attack. “From the Shades of Hades” The production is of special note, as the drums never fade underneath the relentless guitars, whose haunting tone is aptly icy while maintaining a fiery edge.

That being said, not every song is “From the Shades of Hades…” It has everything, with tasteful tremolo, rip-roaring solos, and blastbeats galore, but the fact that the following songs are not and it damages Sempinfernus’ cohesion when its successors fall short. “…To the Targovistean Night” is suddenly sloppy, with its tremolo lacking cohesion and drumming feeling tossed together, while “Timeless… Ageless” goes on for too long with a boring conclusion. Center track and sorta interlude “The Triumph of the Flesh Over the Spirit” is of special mention, as it is entirely instrumental but maintains the blackened palette – with nothing memorable to justify it being its own track except to eke out that full-length runtime. With solid bookends that feature a well-rounded attack, the meat of this sandwich is dreadfully lacking, with either blatant mistakes or simply uneventful songwriting taking away from the experience. Unfortunately, in spite of its best tracks, Krvna also resides in a scene uncomfortably snug with a dime-a-dozen black metal purists, and thus does little to make a case for itself other than another escapade of kvlt nostalgia.

Krvna does have some great things going for it, but Sempinfernus is too inconsistent and unmemorable to stick. While its bookends and portions of “Timeless… Ageless” give ample evidence to its potential, Krvna nonetheless lacks the staying power with its debut. If he decides to write an album full of tracks like “From the Shades of Hades…,” he would have my full attention. With this being his debut, there is more than enough time for reflection and maturation, but Sempinfernus is only sufficient for blackened nostalgia and little else.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Seance Records
Releases Worldwide: November 26th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Posse? Murder? What do you call a group of vampires?
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