20 years of blackened thorns

V/A: Schwarzdorn Label Compilation Pt. I

Release year: 2021
Label: Schwarzdorn Production

It is no mean feat for a label to have been active for 20 years, even if they never rise to become major players in their field. I suppose it’s safe to say that this is just the case with German Schwarzdorn Production, who started out in 2001 and have, at least according to The Metal Archives, in that time racked up 49 releases. Few classics in there, but the fact that they’ve been at it for this long is to be respected.

This compilation sampler album is the label’s own way of celebrating this milestone: a selection of fourteen picks from the label’s discography. Mailed out for free to customers of the label’s webshop, this is a handy way to get an idea of what Schwarzdorn are all about.

Now, there was a time in the mid-noughties, that I almost completely lost interest in what was happening in metal, extreme metal and black metal in particular. It just felt like things were going in directions I didn’t give two shits about. Even today, there are very few albums from that period that spark any mentionable interest in me.

And guess what? Based on this compilation, it is just the sound of that age which seems to inspire Schwarzdorn. A great deal of the tracks on this compilation are black metal of the styles that were so prevalent during those years. And now, as then, I find myself thorouhgly disinterested.

In other words, there’s a lot of second wave derivative black metal with a more or less symphonic and/or synth-laden bent (Xerión, Dark Man Shadow, Quintessence Mystica, Formicarius…), viking/pagan inspired black metal (Taunusheim, Zgard, Fir Bolg…) and that most generic form of noughties metal; often female-fronted, melodic and melancholic gothic-tinged stuff sometimes labelled doom metal, but far too light to actually be doom (Oblivion Beach, Vuolla…). With very few exceptions, this is just the kind of stuff that turned me off extreme metal for a while.

So am I saying this compilation and, by extension, Schwarzdorn Production, are shit? Absolutely not. All I’m saying is that based on this compilation, Schwarzdorn and I just have very different tastes.

As far as extreme and underground metal of these types goes, for the most part the tracks on this album are entirely decent. Some even good within their subgenres. So, in other words: if you – in stark contrast to me – think the mid-noughties were a high point in extreme and underground metal, if you can’t get enough of the noughties pagan/viking black metal and semi-symphonic black metal, odds are that Schwarzdorn’s releases will be up your alley.

They aren’t up my alley, not at all. But looking past that, with some degree of objectivity, this compilation presents well over an hour of material that isn’t, within its own context, too shabby at all.

Visit Schwarzdorn Production on their website, Bandcamp or Facebook

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