Hard Album Review: Wormwood – Natarvet – 9.4

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  • Wormwood
  • Nattarvet
  • Folk/Black Metal
  • Sweden
  • July 26th, 2019
  • 9.5/10

Sisyphean cycles and Sulphurous skies

It was some time past midnight that I decided to just give something random a listen, and that is when I unearthed this gem. I couldn’t quite get enough of it, so I listened to it nonstop for about 2 hours before I finally gave in to sleepiness. And guess what I did the next day. I listened to it on repeat the whole day and it felt all so fresh at all times! Honestly, not many albums have this potential and might to make me do that.

I’m not gonna lie. This band got me enchanted by their super-impressive, world class album cover. I daresay this artwork is the best I have encountered this year. It definitely gets a 10, all so deservingly. I have finally laid eyes upon an exceptional artwork which will, for sure, reside in my mind for long. The sharp colors and the contrast between the elements, not to mention the scenery it depicts, have constructed a piercing visual art. The fact that the logo of the band has not occupied much space and it is not “in your face” is also another plus for the artwork.

As for their music, it is such a well-proportioned blend of melodic black metal and folk nuances. The melodies are quite catchy and it is something you won’t get tired of listening to. Unlike many black metal acts, Wormwood can keep you on your toes (or maybe to be more precise, nail you to the chair) all throughout the album and that is, in large part, due to masterful musicianship and composition of various musical instruments they have had at hand. Not to mention their approach to singing which offers classic black metal style mixed with neo-folk or dark folk vocals, and other various elements, including prevalent Viking chants. I wish to also mention the birds’ chirping on I bottenlös ävja which is, as oddly as it may sound, sweet! Who would expect such a term in something so dark and evil!

My favorite track of the album is, hands down, The Isolationist (the longest on the album), which is, to me, comparable to Nargaroth’s Seven Tears Are Flowing to the River – in structure, impact, mood and execution, even length. This one, though, unique in its own fashion, especially its “clean” passage mid-song and the solo included (which resemble those of Pink Floyd!), pierced the core of my heart so gracefully and subtly.

When it comes to the lyrics, what caught my eye was how poetic, yet dismal the verses were and how they exuded sentiment. Contrary to many other song lyrics in extreme metal, they were not merely random bombastic, highfalutin words that at the end of the day leave no memory behind. They were in fact tales of human conditions and depiction of northern scenery in an elegant way. The Isolationist, as an instance, is a lament to Sueonia (who seems to be a deceased friend of the lyricist’s/band’s), and Arctic Light, as another example, tells the story of a stranded wayfarer on that land who wishes to escape, yet respects, this formidable location. In the meantime, they manage to position words so meticulously that not only do they rhyme and create an overall aesthetic literary work, but they also match the pace and meter of the music in most places and create a harmony, which is not so frequent in this domain. Even the Swedish verses bear the same impression (at least that is what Google Translate allowed me to understand), both semantically and musically.

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The artwork for this album is by black metal artist and nature photographer Mario Polzin – Carcassbomb

On the whole, this album propelled itself right to the top three albums of this year so far. It is a complete package of everything a music album should consist of: top class musicianship, thoughtful and artful lyrics, solid and varied vocals, and surely an alluring artwork which entices the viewer.

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