Severoth – everything
1. Вище Неба (Far Above The Sky)
2. Ненаписані Листи (Unwritten Letters)
3. Порожнеча (Emptiness)
4. Срібні Зорі Весни (Silver Dawns Of Spring)
5. Холодна Ніч Чужих Облич (Coldness Of Sad Eyes)
Ukrainian one-man black metal project Severoth (also known as Illia Rafalskyi) has returned this year with album number five Vsesvit (Universe in English), the follow-up to their 2018 full-length When the Night Falls…. His last record was released independently, with Vsesvit being the first with new label Avantgarde Music. As with the previous releases, the cover artwork was illustrated by Unholy Darkness (Julia Rafalskaya), Severoth’s wife.
Vsevit begins with “Вище Неба” – which translates in English to “Far Above The Sky” – and hosts an atmospheric opening to set the scene. The intro really illustrates the title track well, creating an aural landscape. The lyrics explore the harshness of winter and some other elements of nature. Severoth’s use of both harsh vocals and clean singing provide some human emotion that helps to comprehend what it might be like to experience the cold conditions detailed. At almost fifteen minutes long, the front-runner is the second-longest song on this release, while being eventful enough to keep most engaged throughout and intrigued to hear the next four. It’s plain to see why this was chosen to be the first single and music video from the record.
The instrumentation throughout “Ненаписані Листи (Unwritten Letters)” feels a little coarser here, while the melodic singing is not as soft as before, but more intense, rivalling the urgency of the shrieked vocals. Lyrically, the words have a slightly more personal tone. There are some tension-building moments within the music that create some drama and keep things interesting between the buzzing of guitars and twinkling of keys.
“Порожнеча” – or “Emptiness” – has the fewest lyrics, yet is the longest offering on Vsesvit. It is an interpretation of a poem by Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus (1938-1985). The tracks that depict nature/weather explicitly, both verbally and non-verbally, are definitely highlights on this album. The axe work is also more distinct midway through the release, with a fantastic solo during the outro, while still marrying well with all other components.
A spoken word verse introduces “Срібні Зорі Весни” (Ukrainian for “Silver Dawns Of Spring”), showing another side to the already varied vocal approaches on the album. This penultimate track appears to be full of hope, bolstered by the cheery atmospheric notes and triumphant guitar melodies. What may be lost in translation is successfully communicated through tone of voice and instrumentally.
“Холодна Ніч Чужих Облич” or “Coldness Of Sad Eyes” sees Vsesvit turn back to the sombre mood exhibited earlier in the record. There are some dramatic moments as heard in the second track, with the lyrics being as much about natural elements as they are about human experiences. The whole album is mixed so that the vocals and instrumentation are very close in volume, which gives it a lo-fi quality which suits Vsesvit‘s overall theme. Some ethereal voices also come into play here that really drive home the idea of being desolate and surrounded by bitter coldness.
The union of delicate and heavier sounds on Vsesvit provide a 64 minute-long sublime listening experience. For fans of Midnight Odyssey, Paysage d’Hiver, and Vinterrike.
Review by Kira Levine
Vsesvit by Severoth is out now digitally! You can purchase it here. Pre-order your physical exclusive blue/white splatter 2LP, double black LP or digipack CD, all due for official release on January 8th, 2021.