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Aandens Melankoli (1996)

Previously known as Incitatus, Norway's Svartsyn recorded only a single E.P. before vanishing back into the fog. Released in May 1996 on Osiris Records, Aandens Melankoli strayed from the trademark Norwegian black metal sound. In actuality, this can be considered more of a black/doom release, predating Nortt by a few years. While relatively obscure, this effort succeeds in creating a dark atmosphere and should not be ignored.

This 12" contains only three songs, with "Forhekset av Nordlyset" and "Den Monumentale Horde" running together to create one musical piece. The latter is a re-recorded version of a song that appeared on the 1994 Incitatus demo. The material is slow-paced, with eerie keyboards accentuating the mournful guitar melodies. Everything seems to crawl along, with the weight of the world crushing it to the ground. The harsh vocals and the overall presentation seem to be all that connects this to the realm of black metal. "Mektighetens Herskere" only increases the Funeral Doom feeling, moving forward at an even slower speed and draining the life out of anyone that is unfortunate enough to hear these miserable sounds. The vocals are more of a clean chanting that is kept somewhat to the background, with limited accompaniment of a harsh voice. The guitar riffs are beyond sorrowful and convey a sense of hopelessness and torment that eliminates any trace of light or positivity. One can detect a bit of influence from Funeral's Tristesse demo, though this is quite unlike anything else that had been released up until this time.

The production is rather primitive and sounds more like demo-quality than that of a 12" E.P. There is a hissing that is ever-present throughout the entire recording, which kind of adds to the character. The drums are far off in the distance, while the guitar tone is rather raw and ugly. The poor sound also contributes to what little black metal feeling that exists here, along with the harsh vocals. Had this been done in a proper studio, it is likely that it would have possessed a thicker and heavier sound, which seems appropriate for the material.

Aandens Melankoli is yet another obscure Norwegian release that deserves to be heard by anyone that has an appreciation for dark and miserable music. With three songs clocking in at over twenty minutes, there is plenty of time for the sombre aura to envelope you and to corrupt your spirit. This should appeal to fans of Nortt, though it must be said that this music is actually more coherent and effective. Quite a rare release, so get your hands on this however you must.
(29 Dec. 2011)

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