Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Svarti Loghin - Drifting Through the Void (2010)

Svarti Loghin are certainly not subtle about their intentions, as they titled their debut album Empty World and then had to go and follow up with a Drifting Through the Void. With all this evidence at hand, it doesn't take a huge leap in logic to assume that the band will be playing some cold, depressive black or folk metal, and this is exactly what they do. Empty World was one of the more generic offerings out of this style that I've ever heard, with very simple, repetitious riffing, typical tortured black metal rasps ala Burzum or Weakling, and glints of rustic folk in there, but it was still a fairly soothing effort for someone in the right environment to listen, like an autumn evening before the frost sets in.

Drifting Through the Void is just as effortless an album title, but here the band have gone on a limb to incorporate a more diverse vocal palette, mixing the expected snarling black despair with a style that sounds like a subdued Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. This approach does nothing for me whatsoever, and very quickly gets lost in the midst of the bright, drifting guitars. I realize the point of such vocals are often to lose themselves, since this is a band all over such cliches, but I really feel they come off hammy and weak compared to the rest of the album. The harsh vocals are also nothing special, they have no character or distinction above a few score other bands in this scene, and I never once felt a true pang of longing or depression despite all attempts.

Of course, the muted, bland singing would be forgiven in short order if the music had a lot to offer, but it simply sounds like another post-rock band influenced by college indie and radio arena rock bands from the 90s like Hootie & the Blowfish, the awful Pearl Jam albums beyond the first two, and some repetitious, melodic black metal without a single interesting guitar riff in sight. The way the band layers the clean, plucking sound with the more distorted tones might seem like something unique, but unfortunately when it comes to note selection there is nothing but chord progressions that took under a moment to compose, and extremely dull clean guitars that resonate above them. Seriously, I was not once surprised throughout the 47 minute playtime, not even when subtle organ tones would evaporate across the landscape, as in the best song here, "Bury My Heart in these Starlit Waters".

There is very little aspiration here to create anything other than a somber, predictable escape through falling leaves and into the scattered interstellar debris beyond our daily lives, and it really shows through the songwriting. The melodies have all been created before by every indie band desperately attempting to ape The Cure or Modern English, and an overwhelming mass of quickly forgotten crap shoegazer bands who couldn't live up to the legacy of Catherine Wheel or Lush if they copped a fake accent and plagiarized Slowdive songs. The lyrics are mediocre at best, though they effectively convey the feeling of celestial bodies personified as human spirits, or vice versa, which would make sense for the concept. The cover of "Planet Caravan" stands out only because it's such a better song than anything Svarti Loghin could come up with themselves, and the vocals sound a little less like a hack of Vedder. Hardly grounds to rush out and acquire this album.

I didn't mind Svarti Loghin's debut, but Drifting Through the Void is just more of the same, sans the mild immersion I felt for its predecessor. I found that the riffs were simply too samey and boring to serve me in any capacity aside from gardening, and even then I'd rather listen to one of a thousand other acts. I felt like I was staring at the flat-line on some hospital meter through almost the entire experience, just waiting for a pulse to evacuate me from the album's numbing plane of existence. I wouldn't shoot heroin to this, I wouldn't listen to it during an October drive through the Northeast backroads, and the only depression or melancholy it really conveys is that some people actually think this is 'deep' or impressive.

Surely this band can dig a lot deeper for better results, and in fact, so can you.

Verdict: Fail [3.75/10] (being the son of everything and nothing)

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