Svartby – ‘Riv, hugg och bit’ (2009)
Release: 28 August 2009
Label: Trollzorn Records
Don’t forget Svartby just because the project was closed the last year!
I sadly discovered the true core of their music in the summer of 2022, when it was too late and they were already split. After this sad news, I would play their music in my playlist for a good amount of time, firstly listening to Svartby’s latest works and then reaching “Riv, Hugg och Bit” in winter 2022. It may not be professional especially for a writer but what got me writing about this album today is a particular, unpopular approach I’ve had to it. Stripping Riv hugg och Bit from all sorts of musical contexts of the years this album was published helped me to explore the Black Village’s music with a new perspective. With tons of gold, dwarves, darkness and loneliness, a 45-minute long trip will show you what’s hidden in the Russian village of Svartby: an imperfect, yet unique blend of fast and slower folk metal, keyboards and very harsh screams. In other words: let this album be whatever it was meant to be, and not just the more or less average Finntroll clone the stream of internet reviews will make you believe.
Svartby’s music can surely be described with the strange tag of “swamp metal”. Don’t expect just some fast notes and repetitive melodies all over three or four-minute-long tracks, though. Most of their tracks are a very good succession of variegated riffs, supported both by a sufficient dose of guitars and by various keyboards all over the song time. You can even find long introductions of music without vocals. Solens Ljus is a good example of this – and when the screams appear you look at the clock and found out you’re already halfway through the song.
The best part of this album is, in my opinion, the solid amount of atmosphere offered by the keyboards and synths, completed by guitar riffs that blend together with fine results. I personally don’t bother this approach to folk although there is no other folk instrument than keys, with the only exception being Humus with some violin insertions. Instead, they cover almost the totality of the songs without ever stopping.
The more swampy approach is not everything in this album. The band knows how to slow down and treat music more thoughtfully. Apparently it’s not all fun and games in the swamps… And when you’re getting home and nothing between you looks familiar, Ensam Ensling will soothe your sadness, as even violent dwarves feel alone and lost at the end of the day.
Don’t expect everything to be too serious, though. There are some moments where you can’t help but laugh at some songs and Snubbar, Snubbar is definitely the first song coming into mind when speaking about the stupidest part of this album. How do you think dwarves girls look like? Well if you don’t know it’s time you take your ticket for the black village too.
In conclusion, I still listen to Riv Hugg och Bit with pleasure, despite it having been reviewed negatively all over the web. Following a musical trend where others may have been luckier doesn’t automatically diminish smaller businesses’ works, and it’s time we rediscover Svartby’s village again despite it being no more than a remember now… great album.
- Dvärgby 01:45
- Trollkarlar av dvärgfolk 03:10
- Dvärgars bastu 03:42
- Ölfrun 02:47
- Ensam ensling 03:59
- Groda, ryttare 03:35
- Solens ljus 04:27
- Kvävande gruvor 02:45ĺl
- Regnbågen 01:16
- Liv eller guld 02:57
- Humus 03:28
- Riv, hugg och bit 03:35
- Snubbar, snubbar 02:20
- Vinterkväll 03:23