Svartsot, Never Stronger…

By: Michel
Photography: Jonas Højgaard Andersen

A chance to exchange views with Cris of Svartsot about the new album ‘Maledictus Eris’ and other issues, is an opportunity we won’t waste. If it was only to congratulate him and his companions with the splendid new album. An album which is in the opion of the team of editors of in the race for ‘best album’ of 2011 together with Tyr, Moonsorrow and Amon Amarth. A compliment which Cris is very pleased with of course.
The lin-up of Svartsot is renewed in the past with one big blow. And the new album is about the black death devastating Europein the Middle Agee, coursing a complete massacre in some villages. Do we have to see this as a parallel?
Chris says it was absolutely never the intention to let this story be a parallel of the Svartsot History. The concept of the album developed during the the time it was written. The music of a number of songs was even ready before the band began to think about the lyrical themes. Besides this the band didn’t want to make another album which would be wrongly labeled Viking or Pagan metal. Svartsot is fed up with this label, it doesn’t fit to the things the band shows on the previous records.
The Music which was written uptill that Point had a much more medieval sound, with a little melancholic touch. ’SoJames and I discussed possible themes, and decided the Black Death was the most suiting. En the more research we did on this subject, the more inspiration we found’.
‘Some reviewers accused us of connecting the wrong music and lyrical theme. For our defence I can only say folk and medieval music sound much merrier by nature, for the chords and rythms they use. Folk is full of merry melodies and fearsome lyrics. But compared to the First two records, this one’s a lot less frivolous and we think that’s why the theme and music fit perfectly together’.

From the darkened days of the black death back to the dark days of Svartsot, the time when I first saw a very nice gig of the band in Arnhem, en shortly after this found out the band almost disappeard form the earthsurface.
Cris mentions the band had internal problems for about half a year. The members couldn’t agree on fundamental matters, like in which direction the Music should evolve and how a band had to be run. And going on tour with these things in our luggage, wasn’t beneficial for the relation between me and the other members in the band. Then Stewart, our flute player, left the band for endefite time, because of the health of his partner. He wasn’t able to participate in the tour because of this. I think this was the direct cause which brought our problems to the surface.
We have tried a number of times to discuss our problems, but this negociations didn’t seem to have a lasting effect on anyone of us. In the end it became a matter who would withdraw me or the other members. After this I learned the four other members decided on the same day to withdraw. Later I learned that one of them, the motor behind this split-up, tried to teach me a lesson, because he thought the band couldn’t survice without him. This wasn’t the case, ‘the split-up didn’t effect the band in a negative way. In my opinion the band has become stronger due to the changes in the line-up and it becomes stronger still’, Cris tells us.

As reviewer of I have to Point out, when I listened to “Mulmets Viser” at First, I came to me as if the album was meant to be a proof of the fact Svartsot has survived the misery and wanted to prove they’re still capable of making music in that typical Svartsot-style, with very low vocals and merry whistletunes. Was it meant that way we ask ourselves? What has Cris has to say about this?
‘We had written a lot of material before the split for the new album, but I thew half of it away because the old line-up was to involved in the evolution of them. I only had to write a handfull of new songs for that album, when the line-up was complete at last. I think it was even at that Point the intention to move away from the old sound. But
‘Mulmets Viser’ was a true follow-up of ‘Ravnenes Saga’, and it was also the intention to expand from the fundaments of the first album.’
A long time after the album was released I read on the internet statements of listeners stating ‘Mulmets viser’ was an album which has to grew on you, a feeling, we at also experienced. Is there a explanation for this?
According to Cris is ‘Ravnenes…’ a real ‘straight ahead’ album, where everything comes to the surface when you listened to the first time. ‘Mulmets…’ has more layers, in this way the listener has a lot more to explore. On the First album the flutes go along with the guitars an doing so they’re ‘the other’ leading instrument. At the second album he concentrated more on harmonic elements, and there is a lot more use of mandolin then there was before. There’s also a lot more acoustic guitar in the sound, causing the music to get more depth. And in a lot of ways ‘Maledictus eris” is a sequel in this development.’
According to Cris “Maledictus Eris” is not a completely different album, even if we think the band shows on this they can do a lot more that ‘low vocals and merry flutes’. The cause of this lies according to Cris in the fact he wanted more then ever experiment and broaden the musical spectrum. Chris has problems with the fact people always want to label the band and they don’t appreciate the band fully. ‘Sadly a lot of reviewers still ain’t doing this and they take the album for something we definitely didn’t meant it to be! I think I put this time even more of my own in it and had more influence on the things which have influenced the album. From a ‘folk’-melodic point of view, I put more medieval Music in it this time, and restrained the folkinfluences a little. In generally there were more layers added compared to ‘Mulmets…’. The last fact responsible for this development in the music is the quite stable line-up the band has now. ‘I had a better idea of the musical capacities of the band then I had when I was writing ‘Mulmets,,,’ The band is become more united and we know what we can expect from each other’.

In the beginning Cris already wrote a lot of the Music, but composes all of the Music since the non his own (with a exception for the melody of the intro on ‘Maledictus…’). During the second album he wrote half of the lyrics and James wrote the rest of it in his native language, which was later on translated bij Cris to Danish. This method was used on the last album, in this way he had more time to work on the music. Translating is less time-taking than writing.

Of course we want to know if the band is coming to the Netherlands in the near future. Unfortunately he can’t gurantee this, because of the fact the band is still looking for a decent tour. Outside Scandinavia the band has no full time bookingagency, dit is done by the Danish bookingagency. But with a little luck the band hopes to be on stage in the Netherlands sometimes.