What sounds and music do you think of when you think of the deep misty forests of Dalarna? Murky, calm, introspective rock, with perhaps a hint of folksy Swedish sounds and an air of Swedish “lagom”-ness, perhaps? Well, I for one, do not think of mediocre, bland “soul-full” clean vocals and American style country/blues, which is sadly partly what I got with Skog… Sometimes less is not more and sometimes a depressive black metal band should stay as far from Americana as possible.
Skog is Svarti Loghin’s fourth full-length album, in form of a cassette limited to 100 copies on the Swedish underground black metal label Total Holocaust Records. A label that is home to some great bands like Reaktor 4 and Svarti Loghin. Anyhow, Skog is a continuation of their last album Luft, both in themes and music, however, this time Svarti Loghin consists only of Stefan L., who has been with the band since the start, and Emilia. I do not know if I should be fearful that this is the future of one of the greatest Swedish depressive atmospheric black metal bands; that it has become a country/blues solo project by the guitarist/singer. A singer that should have stuck to growls and kept the clean singing to a minimum…
I don’t have a problem of artist who want to try something different, or who want to change direction, I am just sad that this is the path they chose. If it had been a separate project entirely, apart from Svarti Loghin, I would have been more OK with their choices. In my mind Svarti Loghin is still one of the best DSBM band to emerge from Sweden and it’s an affront to my ears that they have become a half-good soft rock, half-worthless country/blues band. I am a big advocate of artistic license and that the artist should be able to take the project in the way they see fit, but that doesn’t mean that the listeners can’t disagree and criticize the artists choices. I mean, Svarti Loghin, a mediocre country/blues band?! Come on! He could have taken the sound in so many interesting and new ways! He could have created a new sound of Swedish inspired folk rock songs with a dark and melancholic edge, sort of like Kent, but actually good and darker.
Despite all my disappointment with his vocals and stylistic choices, the composition of the majority of the song on Skog are well made and has a nice dark and eerie mood. Low quality and distant melodies, as expected from a former black metal artist releasing a album on cassette. It’s just a shame that his “nice” clear vocals sounds so bland and dull that it almost ruins the entire songs. I would only recommend that you pick up Skog if you like softer rock, with a dark hint, and Americana, or if you are a fan/collector of Svarti Loghin. I am more leniant with Luft since it still had one or two songs that reminded me of their wonderful BM, but on Skog, these have been replaced with the horrible country/blues songs… I can only hope that these songs were only a thing on this album and that they will return to their original style.
I would be very sad to see Svarti Loghin go away, because of some stupid change of musical direction, when they had so much potential of being one of the best Swedish DSBM bands out there… For now, I’ll put Skog and Luft on the shelf and stick to Empty World and Drifting through the Void and reminisce of the lost glory days…
I. Skog (Luft del II)
III. The Mill Road
IIII. Insertion Loss
IIII. Fifi the Flea (The Hollies cover)