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Unidentified Swarthy Boneheads - 76%

TheStormIRide, March 1st, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, 7" vinyl, Iron Bonehead Productions (Limited edition)

There has been a veritable heap of acts going for the whole mysterious and anonymous thing in recent years. Call it what you will, there are some band’s that just do it for the schtick value and there are some bands that just want the listener to focus on the music as it’s presented, free of preconceptions. Swarþ is one such act, hailing from the great reaches of the unknown. Aside from label promotion via Iron Bonehead Productions, the band has no available contact information, no credits in their releases and no pictures of the band have been taken. That’s actually quite a statement in today’s date and age, where even some of the most mysterious acts have press photos and Facebook pages. Swarþ’s exact date of formation is unknown, but the act burst onto the black/death metal scene in 2012 with their eponymously titled debut demo, which was released through Exitium Productions.

The band has since dropped a handful of releases, with 2015′s Veneficivm being the latest, which is a two track seven inch. Continuing a trend set by earlier releases, the track list consists of untitled tracks. Each track is seconds shy of the six minute mark, but, while this is a short venture, Swarþ pack a murky and heavy sound. Taking the heavy handed riffing of bands like Teitanblood and Diocletian and adding the esoteric chaos of later period Mayhem, Swarþ’s sound is as cryptic and harrowing as the mystery surrounding the band itself. The music is presented through a thick and unrelenting wall of sound. Jagged trem riffs and deep bellowing growls collide with blasting double bass runs with simplistic cymbal work. The trem riffs work themselves into jarring atonal notes with just a dash of unwieldy groove. A portion of the second track breaks into a short segment of weird humming and chants with stringent melodies, bordering on a ritualistic trance, but Swarþ breaks back into a full, hammering stride before closing out.

While the band’s thick wall of sound keeps things sounding cabalistic and esoteric, it really hampers the power of the pummeling double bass, which comes across as background noise at times. It’s a minor complaint, as the music pummels away in fine fashion. The jagged riffing, subterranean bellows and thundering rhythm make this a must for fans of black/death metal in the vein of Witchrist, Diocletian and Teitanblood. Boasting the aforementioned moments of esoteric weirdness, Veneficivm offers a slightly different take on that classic Iron Bonehead sound.

Written for The Metal Observer.