Label: Void Wanderer Productions / War Productions
Date: January 27th, 2023
There are a few things tying up a few bands that involve Mr. Floris Velthuis. Also, I’m willing to bet he’s getting pissed when he reads a sentence like the opener of this review. No musician likes to have his various projects linked together. But don’t worry dear Floris, that’s not what I have in mind. The things I’m talking about that can be a link between Asgrauw, Meslamtaea and Schavot are as follows:
– Wonderful works of art adorning the covers, though all of them heading in different directions;
– They all revolve around old Scandinavian school of black metal, though all of them looking for different approaches to the subject;
– Singing in native, Dutch language, but covering different subjects.
Okay, Asgrauw is not quite the brainchild of Mr. Velthuis, but I would dare say Schavot’s new record is definitely influenced by what he does there, consciously or not. Replenished though it may be with some add-ons, Schavot goes for an overly Norwegian approach to the genre. Sharp and cold black metal without dwelling all that much on the melody. Much rather, the band goes for the grandeur of sound as a whole, along with immense capability of forming an imaginative riffing storyline.
Whether Schavot furiously attacks or asserts a gripping dominance by atmospheric means – or goes for the double blow, like in “Zwart water” – the guitars hold you tight. “Kronieken uit de nevel” could easily be dubbed a fully guitar oriented record, because that’s where the treasure chest lays. The rhythm section is there, absolutely present and given enough space in the overall soundscape, but it rarely does more than its initial job of holding firm the backbone on which the six-stringed monster can play around.
Of course, the album has its “mandatory” tremolo-picked old school browse through the chords. Those are, obviously, the least interesting pieces. Luckily, they do not frequent Schavot’s tunes. Nor do they take on much room within. When the varying effects take their place, the band shoots right between the eyes. As I mentioned, melodic approach is not something this Dutchman strives for. More than melodies, he seeks to harmonize his guitars, both bass and regular one, in which he is very successful. Lessons learned in Meslamtaea, I would say, though used in a much more straight-forward manner in Schavot. Those harmonies, along with well-thought progressions, are the important aces up the sleeve of “Kronieken uit de nevel”.
However, there are a few slightly hidden details, too. Ones you might miss at first glance, but are of grave importance for the total impression of the album. Like the voices that glide in at times. If I’m not mistaken, there’s a subtle choir appearing from time to time. Even more noticeable, the female soprano (is it soprano or some other color?). Schavot doesn’t misuse it, doesn’t take it overboard. The band paints additional details with it. Where necessary, as the lady doesn’t sing in all the tracks.
Majority of voices throughout the release are typical black metal screams. Mr. Velthuis proves himself a stable vocalist. There is definite room for improvement, in delivery most of all, but considering the amount of talentless frontmen around, he is more than adequate. What’s more, his performance enhances when he dives into clean parts. Most of all, his emotional presence grows even bigger in those moments.
In total, Schavot’s second full length proves to be a step forward. From the promising debut, towards starry skies, across “Kronieken uit de nevel”. A strong black metal album to start off 2023. Let’s go!