If the alchemical process of turning metal into gold could be applied in music, then Svoid would be the perfect example for this occult experiment.
After releasing 2 full lengths and 2 EPs while deeply rooted in black metal in particular and extreme metal in general, the hungry wolves from Svoid decided some months ago to change the settings completely and distance themselves from the “extreme” scene which they have been part of for quite some time.
This change resulted in a series of events which occurred in their hometown of Budapest, shows which revealed the other side, still dark though, of their craft.
Another event, not necessarily related to Svoid but which had a strong tie with their decision to distance themselves from the scene, was the last Formorket performance, ( a black metal band that contained 2 Svoid members) which took place last August. After that event, Formorket was put to sleep for good and all the black metal elements were entombed for ever. Its surviving members decided to continue with Svoid on a different level of perception though, not necessarily available for everyone.
I was lucky to witness one of those manifestations of the new Svoid last Thursday, when they opened the Sea of Sorrow festival, held at Durer Kert, in Budapest.
During the past months I have been warned about the new path the band has decided to wander on, but I was extremely curious to see how and if they would manage to cut off the ties of their (blackened) past and how the new orchestration of their old songs would sound like in the new, improved direction.
Well, I have to be honest and admit that what I heard two nights ago came as a shock for me, even though, as I said, I have been warned before. Usually, every review reflects its writer’s point of view, so this one will be no different, but I will try to be as honest as possible and reflect with proper accuracy what happened Thursday night.
The first change came at the line-up level, with the addition of a new drummer (a non metal but very skilled guy – Gyorgy Csintalan) instead of the regular one, Daniel, who will take care of the guitar duties from now, along with backing vocals and other small arrangements, which I will reveal later in this review.
The second surprise consisted of S‘s voice: the black metal aspects have disappeared, being replaced with a clean approach of the music, which can come as a serious shock for those who did not know about the change.
The third aspect which has changed is related to the new interpretation of their old songs, which were featured on the latest album to date, Storming Voices of Inner Devotion. Gone are the blast beats, the shrieks and the black metal attitude. Instead, they have been replaced with a different interpretation, a different tempo and a totally different vocal approach.
While nothing sounds as before, there is something sinister lurking there, in the mist, which still connects the old with the new. But you have to be open minded and embrace the music with full heart to really appreciate this new approach, as it is not for everyone. I mean, if you’re looking for old school, traditional black metal, well, you’ll be disappointed. But the darkness is still present there, in the lyrics, in the band’s appearance and in the music.
You do not have to openly sing about Satan and devil worship to be evil, sometimes an Editors cover like An End has a Start can work the same way, if you penetrate its dark core and if you accept to step outside your comfort zone.
The first part of the show, and I mean here the first 4 songs, revealed a band still trying to search for its direction, not very eager to cut off the ties with the past in an abrupt way, still quite unsure of how to approach the new versions of the songs.
The show started with a GravenHurst cover, Velvet’s Cell, which suits the new Svoid quite well, as it outlines a bit the direction the band is trying to take. Death, Holy End and Eternal followed and the surprise was getting bigger and bigger. I was used with the heavy version of those songs, with a more aggressive and fierce attack on the drums and chords, so when I heard those 2 new reinterpreted tracks my jaw dropped a bit. It was not bad at all and I liked the approach, but I just need some time to digest the change. The Editors cover was next on the list and for a dude who never payed too much attention to this band before, I really liked what I heard, as I mentioned above the song has a strange darkness about it.
The fifth track was an unusual version of an already twisted song, Long I’ve Gone, form the Storming Voices of Inner Devotion album. The CD version of the track has some really nice guitar parts and a haunted voice spreads its evil words through the speakers. In its new version, Long I’ve Gone has been transformed into a sinister track, where only S‘s clean voice and Daniel‘s spooky piano are heard. No other instruments are part of this mix, so with the help of a well planned stage smoke, they managed to create one hell of an atmospheric track, which can easily find its place on a horror movie soundtrack.
After this intermezzo, the second part of the Svoid show began with Never to Redeem, Cascade (a Siouxsie and the Banshees cover) and the last track for the night, Forlorn Heart. This “second part” of the show was more energetic, more en force and maybe this is what the bands need. It suits them better to have an aggressive style as well and some small hints from the past could be heard too, especially in S‘s voice and Daniel‘s riffing. Those little elements connected the missing dots and closed a circle in Svoid‘s music and I really think the band still needs them. The transition towards the new shape is difficult, and it cannot be done by completely suppressing some of the former elements which they used so well.
Another great surprise was the presence of a brand new Svoid track, written in the new formula, The Very Hours. As far as I know, this was the second time they played it live and I really liked it. It gives me hope that the new material will be as powerful as the old one, but on a completely different level. Maybe they cannot be labelled as black metal anymore, but that doesn’t mean Svoid has changed the message or its goal. Just listen closely to their music, you’ll still find some darkness there and I am confident that in time, slowly but surely they will find their sinister path to walk on.
All they need is patience and time…But in the mist, you have them both.
1. Velvet’s Cell (Gravenhurst cover)
2. Death Holy End
4. An End Has a Start (Editors cover)
5. Long I’ve Gone
6. Never to Redeem
7. The Very Hours
8. Cascade (Siouxsie And The Banshees cover)
9. Forlorn Heart