Album Review: Mortem – Ravnsvart (Peaceville Records)

Bringing together members of Arcturus, Mayhem, Thorns, & 1349 for a masterwork of eerie black metal, Peaceville proudly presents the long-awaited debut studio album from the newly reformed Norwegian legends, Ravnsvart which will be released on 27th September 2019.


When one looks back at the bloodstained history of black metal, the names are as familiar as those of old friends – Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone. But in the shadows lurked another prime purveyor of northern darkness.  Formed by Marius Vold & Steinar Sverd Johnsen in 1989, Mortem was one of the first black metal bands to crawl out of the woodwork in Norway, releasing the highly coveted and brutal Slow Death demo, with Euronymous & Dead of Mayhem acting as producer and cover artist respectively. After the release of Slow Death, the band was laid to rest with members going on to form and feature in acclaimed titans such as Arcturus and Thorns, both of which would become mainstays in the black metal scene and beyond.

In a moment of nostalgia & a desire for something more brutal beyond the current vessel of Arcturus, the corpse of Mortem was revived, & the unholy duo of Marius & Steinar joined forces once more.

Joining the duo is Hellhammer from the legendary Mayhem on drums, plus Tor Stavenes of 1349/Svart Lotus on bass.

Steinar Sverd Johnsen comments on the reformation:

Reviving Mortem was something we had thought about for a long time. Due to increasing creative differences it was a natural move to drag Mortem out of the ground, and come together with other brilliant additions to the band, to make something evil, fast, and heavy as hell, borrowing elements from Arcturus and Bathory, It’s old school while being totally unique.

As black metal as they come, the names involved in Mortem don’t get more ‘cvlt’ and even if you’re unaware of this band’s existence, you’ll be certainly excited by such a talented evil bunch uniting.

Returning at a time where black metal has splintered into many variations, there’s no arguing that there’s still a place at the table for an old school band like this. Their history as this unit is brief but impactful especially when you look at the time period in which they released their demo.

They’ve come a long way since though. The band members having found success and acclaim in a number of different bands. This does mean we have a much more modern sounding album, one that’s less of a ‘recorded in the woods on a tape deck’ release thankfully.

It’s got all the black metal trimmings of yester-year. Violent and vile, angry and aggressive, evil and egregious…except it’s far less messy and far more listenable. The clarity in sound is excellent yet it still has that ugly edge that makes it easily identifiable as black metal.

A lot of that can be put down to the vocals that have that gurgling screech style that enimates from the fiery corners of hell. As well as the drumming which never seems to stop, even when the track ends they’re still thumping and crashing around inside the skull.

Drink deep of the viscus liquid that Mortem are offering here. It’s an exceptionally strong release and a return that dismisses any notion that this is about ego stroking. Mortem didn’t have to do this and they certainly didn’t need to put such effort in to make it such a classy release. They’ve nailed it though and hopefully this isn’t one and done for this evil unit.


Mortem – Ravnsvart Full Track Listing:

1. Ravnsvart
2. Sjelestjeler
3. Blood Horizon
4. Morkets Monolitter
5. Truly Damned
6. Demon Shadow
7. Port Darkness
8. The Core


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Mortem - Ravnsvart (Peaceville Records)
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