We received our first glimpse into the mesmerizing world of SYN's brilliant debut, Villfarelse, on TERRATUR COMPENDIUM MMXXIII, which dropped on March 24. In my humble opinion, the Trondheim-based Terratur Possessions, the home of Mare and Whoredom Rife, is the best black metal label besides The Sinister Initiative. Based on the comp, it was immediately apparent that SYN, who hails from southern Norway, shares Terratur's total dedication, integrity, and values. Thus, we included SYN on our list of the best new black metal bands, and Villfarelse quickly became one of my most anticipated releases of 2023. I absolutely knew that it would be miraculous.
Normally, it would seem a bit strange to quote a label's description in a review. However, Terratur Possession's impossibly articulate founder, Ole A. Aune, perfectly nailed the essence of Villfarelse: "With the passion of old Ulver and Forgotten Woods, the atmospheres of Vemod, the aggression of Askeregn; here comes SYN to remind you of what Black Metal once was." Even Villfarelse's cover stands as a monument to the greatness of the past. The chosen image is the work of the late muse Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914), whose art has graced iconic albums like Filosofem and Hvis lyset tar oss. Indeed, Villfarelse transports listeners back to the '90s. At the same time, however, SYN couldn't be further from a clone band, and Villfarelse is stamped with a unique brand of dark magic. In this respect, it feels very fresh and even, dare I say, innovative.
SYN's musical supremacy is no surprise given that the band boasts an unidentified member of the revered Askeregn — a group that we highly recommend. The anonymous musicians behind SYN clearly approached Villfarelse without any ego, and that is, of course, reflected in the result. They totally merge with the music. It is clear that the SYN team has achieved total chemistry: their clarity and strength of vision is complete.
Yes, Villfarelse's songs form a thoroughly cohesive whole. Yet, each track has its own distinctive and intoxicating character, the nuances of which become more apparent after each play. Because this record is so intense, most people will have to listen several times in order to process it. Villfarelse's addictive nature, however, will ensure that this happens quickly. SYN all too effectively builds suspense, tension, and momentum. Villfarelse opens with the sound of rain, thunder, and crackling on "Daudatale." The final track, "Drømmen ved bålet," includes similar touches, which lend a cinematic quality. The explosive Villfarelse often feels like an unsparing war film, a journey through the trenches; SYN demonstrates the artistic commitment of soldiers. If you want to play with fire, this record will burn you, but it will also purify your soul if you submit to the pain it deals.
The atmosphere throughout Villfarelse is absolutely remarkable, absurdly dense. The overall sound is massive and the journey immersive. This deeply impressed us right away on the track showcased on the compilation, the awe-inspiring "Groregn," an opus that still strikes us as every bit as unfathomably genius now as it did many months ago. "Groregn," by the way, gives way to the underworldly "Ormekulde," an offering with a very special energy.
On Villfarelse, SYN combines brutality, intellect, and grace. Unexpectedly gorgeous in the right places, Villfarelse is an exceptionally haunting record that is not without entrancing and sometimes soaring melodies. There are even some wicked grooves. The compositions are outstanding, dreamlike as they are ruthless. They engage audiences in an almost balletic dance to the guillotine. The beautiful guitarwork, bass, and icy drums always seem ideally suited to the moment. The mostly harsh vocals — authoritative, aggressive, and varied — are superb. We hear howls, gasps, maniacal screaming, even different kinds of clean chanting, and so forth. The devilishly charming penultimate track, "En siste kveld," which provides nice contrast, begins with vocals that are spoken with the clout of a dictator and perfect cadence.
Ultimately, Villfarelse delivers a lethal needle of authenticity to the arm. This angst-inducing record will put you in direct contact with death, sorrow, and chaos. Thus, this masterpiece not only forces listeners to contemplate existential questions, but it provides a liberating and transcendent experience. As far as I'm concerned, Villfarelse not only proves one of the best albums of the year, but it has the weight and qualities of a black metal classic. When blessed with the glorious curse of dangerous music like this, your desire for almost all other bands should wilt. SYN has already been booked to play beside the likes of the scene's leading figures — the Spellemann-winning Djevel and the celebrated Darvaza. I firmly believe that SYN is one of the most promising acts around.