Svartsot - Maledictus Eris

How many people actually listen to music which is sung in a language they do not speak? I’m just curious. I wonder how successful bands are that sing only in a Scandinavian language or German or Japanese or whatever. I expect they do well enough in their local region, but how many people will truly listen to the music for the music alone and not care that the lyrics are lost on them? I’d just be curious to see a percentage on that sometime. Personally, I tend to reach for music with English lyrics, but singing in another language is not a guaranteed deal-breaker with me. Finntroll, for example: No idea what they are saying but that is some cool as shit music, am I right?

Svartsot, from Denmark, play a brutal yet melodic metal mixed with Scandinavian folk and medieval music. Death Folk if you will. Their songs are sung in the Danish mother tongue. So, needless to say, I have no idea what they singing about. Or do I? That’s right; once again we head over to the ever insightful bio sheet for more info.

According to their bio sheet “Maledictus Eris” is a concept album based in the mid-14th century and tells the story of the plague, aka The Black Death, when it reaches Denmark. Approximately one third of the people in Europe died from the plague when it tore across the continent and this album’s songs “tell the tales of the dying, the dead and the survivors, their fears, their sadness, their reactions, and their grief.”

The songs seem to be mostly mid-tempo melodic death metal with all harsh vocals and peppered with folk instrumentation, particularly whistles. Musically the album is very solid, if not particularly inspiring or original. It doesn’t break any new ground, but the ground it holds it handles well. The vocals remind me of middle-era Amon Amarth. They do the job well enough, but they are rather monotone and are unfortunately mixed a little low compared to the music. They would benefit from either being more dynamic, or, more easily achieved, by just pushing them up in the mix a little more; that would make them pretty good.

My favorite parts on the album are the whistles. They cut through all the other parts and can be heard very clearly. And I love this style of medieval sounding flute music. It always takes me back to the Renaissance Festival days of my youth. I have a feeling that if the lyrics were in English I would like the album much more; but as it is I’m feeling rather disconnected from the album and unable to appreciate it fully.