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Ultra Silvam Throws Back Toward the Future on “The Spearwound Salvation”

ultra silvam

It usually takes many years for a band to come up with something as exquisite as The Spearwound Salvation. In most cases, it’s a culmination of practice and perseverance that is needed to perfect the sounds in their heads and replicate it on albums and from stages. For Ultra Silvam, they were far too impatient for that; they unleashed a masterpiece right out of the gate.

Full disclosure: this Swedish outfit did release a three-song demo in 2017 that definitely hinted at the band’s promise. It attracted the attention of Shadow Records who would release it as a 7″. The label was forced to re-press the single after it sold out the initial 500 copies — this may have been the impetus to release a full album, but even without that demand, listening to The Spearwound Salvation is convincing enough that the group’s creativity is not limited to three songs.

They didn’t even need all of them for the record. Only one track from the demo, “A Skull Full of Stars,” migrates to the debut album. It was a smart choice as it was the best song of the three, and they made it even better — the album version is a little more refined and precise than the demo. Additionally the band fleshes it out with a fittingly ambient outro. These are subtle differences, but by just taking a little reverb off the vocals and cleaning up the mix, it is a better sonic fit alongside the rest of the album which is impeccably produced.

While black metal conjures up atmosphere, sometimes abstractly, Ultra Silvam harken back to perhaps when riffs mattered even more. Maybe they’re just a product of their environment, surrounded by legendary death metal bands that made distorted guitar wrangling the priority, though having seven blistering songs in less than a half hour is more directly reminiscent of thrash metal.

Make no mistake, though: The Spearwound Salvation is a black metal album. The breathy, echoing vocals of M.A. (all three members go by initials only) help make that clear. It’s just an album steeped in metal traditions that most black metal continues to abandon in recently passing years. Imagine early Taake, but with a far greater sense of melody (and without the baggage). But, in an ironic twist (one the band probably would say isn’t an accident), there is still loads of atmosphere too. It’s just not the kind that has been fashionable for a while now, one that doesn’t need eerie synthesizers to ham-fistedly invoke dusky cemeteries or howling winter storms (not that there’s anything wrong with stereotypical burial grounds or blizzards as far as black metal goes).

“Ödesalens Uppenbarelse,” which translates as “Revelation of Desolation,” plus the song “Wings of Burial,” use classic metal tropes to good effect. The former features a doomy break bookended by chaos; the latter is the only cut that takes a breather. Everything else is breathtaking breakneck brutality (seriously, “Birth of a Mountain” is over-the-top ridiculousness). By itself, that would still stand out circa 2019, but on top of that Ultra Silvam has a keen sense of melody and a seemingly innate ability to have said melodies shine through no matter how relentless it all is. In some ways, The Spearwound Salvation is a throwback, but in even more ways, it is an utterly unique statement upon today’s black metal landscape.

The Spearwound Salvation releases today Friday via Helter Skelter Productions in CD, LP, cassette, and digital formats.

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