A band that took me by surprise with their 2017 release was Swedish melodic black metal act Grafvitnir. I’d never heard of them before their fifth album release but it was a superb offering to the Swedish black metal of old and with that release I now had the band on my radar. Fast forward to 2019 and the trio has now released their sixth album called Venenum Scorpionis via the ever so great Carnal Records. One thing worth noting on the line-up is Niantiel is in it, who has a past with Grá and is currently also in Cursed 13. Grá and Cursed 13 shares most of it’s members and are lead by the dark star Heljarmadr (Dark Funeral, Domgård, Grá, Cursed 13).
Venenum Scorpionis picks of right where Keys to the Mysteries Beyond left off and offers us 37 minutes of pure, cold black metal. They make no secret that this is yet another homage to the early Swedish black metal scene, great as it is. If you liked their old albums, actually scratch that, if you even like old school black metal then this will be right up your dark alley. Be it Dissection, Naglfar, Valkyrja, Funeral Mist or the new blood Blood of Serpents that’s your poison then you should know of Grafvitnir, if you don’t it’s time to repent. One thing I praised Grafvitnir for before was their use of Swedish lyrics on “Vargavinter”, here they offer one more with the track “Ormeld” and I still wish they would write even more as their songwriting in Swedish gives me chills to be honest.
There aren’t really much differences from Keys to the Mysteries Beyond and Venenum Scorpionis, for the good and bad. As I stated before you know exactly what you get from Grafvitnir and if you’ve enjoyed their previous efforts then you will have a good time with this too. It’s a band that has found their sound and is sticking by it, I for one think this is one of the best underground black metal bands in Sweden right now so I say keep it up! The two main differences for me personally is that I enjoy the songwriting more on Venenum Scorpionis but I thought Keys to the Mysteries Beyond had more melodic and atmospheric sides to it which speaks to me more in the long run. Each to their own though and I advise you to give both a listen to compare. I do need to add the instrumental track “I nattens mantel svept” is beautiful, bringing that medieval acoustic flare and is a nice ice breaker that weirdly enough fits into the rest of the album. Will be interested to see which album I will get back to the most down the road but fact is they are both great and black metal fans have another sweet dark offering given to them early this year!
Written by J.B.
Label: Carnal Records
For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection
Release date: February 22nd, 2019
Favorite song: Ormeld
Score: 4/5 Incredible