There are times I can appreciate what a band at least tried to offer. In the case of Svangur Kvöl, a project out of Melbourne, Australia, they presumably were looking out for crusty black metal, the likes of which we have tons of up here in the Pacific Northwest. Add to that an apparent influence of death metal and a willingness to experiment, well… sign me up.
Of course, good taste in genre and apparent open-mindedness don’t account for how badly Svangur Kvöl have failed in other respects on Wreck of the World. Listening to this, I’m reminded that there’s still a viable distinction between the noisy, raw, and lo-fi productions the genre’s outsiders protest, and a recorded sound that actually sounds like garbage. There are good riffs on Wreck of the World, and even salvageable moments within them. But taken as a whole, between the aberrant amateurism, the practically inaudible riffs, the malsuited growls, and trite audio samples of stuttering Leftist activists, the album is probably something I could have done without.
When my initial impressions towards an album are so negative, I find myself highlighting the music’s positive traits more than I would normally. With that, there’s fortunately good here for me to talk about. The album, something shy of the half-hour mark, feels like it was part of the way towards something solid. If you’re into blackened crust and enjoy the standard elements, rest assured Svangur Kvöl bring them here; as I said, some of the riffs are quite good. Better still, on a couple of the tracks there is the sign of electronic interruptions and ambient experimentation. This is especially true at the start of ‘Drag the Knife Across the Hunter’s Throat’, an introduction which features glitchy electronics that sound like something from the recent Liturgy avant-garde stockpile.
An entire album of Svangur Kvöl ambient hankering would likely be worth the recommendation. With that, it’s really disappointing they would rather introduce their tracks by finding blasé samples of speakers stuttering on about activism and corporate greed, pressing ‘play’, then letting the samples overdrag sometimes for minutes on. That Svangur Kvöl places such an emphasis on leftist politics isn’t the issue—they share a lot of beliefs and sounds with Iskra, who don’t suffer from the same issue. There were places here where the speech sample intros are dragged out so much that I was wondering whether the band was more interested in making black metal or finding a soapbox on which to clamber and howl. ‘Our Little Tyrannies’ is an example of a song that’s practically taken over by a lecture on the evil greed of corporations. With any number of Noam Chomsky interviews to hear online for people looking for that sort of thing, this kind of technique feels more like a way to unnecessarily flesh up an album that would have been better labelled as another demo.
The electronic glitches and some of the riffs are the only things worth salvaging from this mess. But at least there is something worth salvaging. The growls are muffled and the rote blastbeats are outright bad; both are louder than the album’s quality parts. Add to that a weak production that might have passed as a demo and there just aren’t a lot of things working out in Wreck of the World‘s favour. It’s probably best for Svangur Kvöl to consider this one another demo in disguise and return to the drawing board.
01) Out of the Darkness… the Wolves Came Whispering
02) Ngayurnangalku (The Mining Devil of Pilbara)
03) Drag the Knife Across the Hunter’s Throat
04) Fences and Windows
05) Our Little Tyrannies
06) She Has the Body of Freya, the Heart of Wotan