Syven - _Aikaintaite_
(Vendlus Records, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
Genre delineations sure ease the writer's job of cluing in a prospective audience to the particular qualities of a recording. When those simplistic categorizations fail, though, the resulting auditory experience can be exalting. What, for instance, do you call Syven's new slab of textured sorrow? "Atmospheric metal" sounds flaky, and maybe Syven is that, but it's also undeniably affecting. _Aikaintaite_ is almost a photo negative of Nortt's coffinside meditations, so is it neofolk-fired life/doom? Now I just want to punch myself for having written that. The pervasive baritone chanting gives the album a rural monastic vibe: Atavistic Wiccan Monk metal? I should be torn apart by a summoned wolf totem for even having the thought. I guess I'm forced to actually (ugh) describe it to you.

At the outset, you know shit's serious when an album's short intro and interlude tracks measure seven and eight minutes respectively. (The other three titans are two to three times that length.) The record opens with drones, a slow campfire beat, and owl hooting. Deep ritual hum-grunts enhance the highly ceremonial ambiance. The treble clef finally gets its due in the form of some percussed strings. Clear, strident guitar tones ring out through the tense darkness that fills "Jäljet", later making room for chords thrumming with menacing distortion. As the track settles into its middle third, it relaxes slightly into naturalistic harmonies reminiscent of a less saturated Celestiial. At times, the heaviness evaporates entirely and the whole sonic space is inflated with subtle melodies; then the near-militaristic, feedback-soaked electric sludge locks in and grinds the spirit quest vibe into Mother Earth-flavored paste.

If you like your songs to have individual impact, get thee away from Syven. These five movements echo and expand upon each other, cycling through ideas that take on various configurations and meanings as the recording continues. If you're bold enough, though, to open yourself to the vast and threatening world around you, Syven will hold the door for you and beckon you through it. Go ahead. Enlightenment and terror await.


(article published 2/4/2012)

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