Svartby – Elemental Tales (17 February 2012, Trollzorn Records)
Svartby are an extreme folk metal band from Saint Petersburg, Russia, which was formed back in 2003 by a keyboardist/composer/lyricist named Giftsvamp. Actually, “extreme folk metal” is a phrase they sometimes use to describe themselves, but they actually prefer the term “Svartcore” because the unique sound they create just doesn’t quite fit with what you’d normally consider “folk” music, or “extreme metal” or even “metal” music. They blend elements of all of these, but essentially “Svartcore” is centered around the band leader’s orchestral creations, which are then augmented by heavy metal guitars, drums, and death-metal-style vocals.
“Svartby” itself is the name of a fictional “black village” which is inhabited by mythical creatures — mostly either mischevious or malevolent ones (such as witches, gnomes, and imps) — and these form the main basis for the band’s lyrical content. Despite the band’s Russian origin, at first their lyrics were written entirely in Swedish, although over time, they began adding many songs in English as well.
The latest of these releases, Elemental Tales, first saw the light of day in February of this year, on CD via German label Trollzorn Records. However, the band is of the opinion that music ought to be freely available to all listeners: they have been quietly encouraging the album to be shared on the internet since the time of its release, and now they have established a Bandcamp page for themselves, where all their albums can officially and legitimately be downloaded for free. Bear in mind, though, you also have the opportunity to pay any price you choose — which would be highly appreciated by the musicians, who say they had never earned any money from their own music before now (explaining that, instead, everything has always gone to the record labels to offset expenses). (Read more about the band’s decision to give their music away for free here.)
So without any further ado, let’s discuss this recent album, and then I’ll give you the opportunity to listen to it and grab a copy of it…