What once was one of Sweden's well received underground black metal acts, Hypothermia has taken the plunge into the world of instrumental post-rock/metal. The change towards this more expansive and emotional approach is the end result of the natural musical progression from the group's birth back in 2001. It wasn't until 2003 that the band began to release material, starting with their first demo Saphien irretable. Four more demos and two splits later, and the first full-length effort, Veins, came to be, which was handled by Insikt Records. From here came more splits and two full-length albums, eventually moving on to the style that the now three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Kim Carlsson (Kall, Lifelover), drummer Richard Abrams (Sitra Ahra), and 2013's recent acquisition of guitarist Hans Cools (Kite, Trancelike Void), has come to be known for. Now the group is signed to Agonia Records to release their new album, Svartkonst, the first new full-length in roughly five years. But does this stand as a fluid extension of the obvious Depressive black metal roots the group had pulled plenty of influence from, or does it fail to meet even the most basic of expectations?

For the most part, Svartkonst is a fairly mellow album full of slower to mid-paced material with traces of an intimate atmosphere due to the cleaner sound of the guitars, one of which having a deeper tuning instead of utilizing a bass guitar, as well as a louder drum presence with a nice echo on the kit. This gives the recording a surprisingly well to avoid going that extra mile to set up a dark, candlelit room through post-production, mastering techniques, or going all in for a raw or analog environment. In fact, "Invokation" feels like an acoustic performance, all without actually being one, all to cater to the colder and Depressive nature of the band's roots. There's an obvious chill in the air with the trudging pace and simpler chords that use the aforementioned distortion-less tuning to its advantage, casting you into what feels like a chamber music equivalent of being lock away in a frostbitten dungeon, staring longingly outside towards the sun, unable to rejoin the general populace or fully bask in its warming glow from your ice-laden cell of misery.

What follows doesn't quite have the same personal environment to it all the time, but still stand as some fairly calming performances. "Efterglöd" takes its time, weaving something that seems painted from the tears brought on by the mournful memory that sparked this performance. The cold riffs continue on, but with a deeper sound, as well as interpretation to the truly depressing, echoing chords. The passion found throughout, not to mention key bridges to include lower tuned distortions more as a burdening rhythm for the soundtrack to one of the most tragic memories or losses your memory can muster. "Vy" seems to try to capture this sort of impact, but it doesn't quite work out. While not a bad track overall, it just feels like the band decided to take a Lifelover song, throw some Xanax at it and ground it to its room where it sat in the corner brooding. It's so hard to not hear Kim's signature pleading vocal wails from that band when tackling this one. But, in all respect, it is a pretty soothing composition, even when the thick distortions kick in to blur things up.

"Regnvals" has a hint of Jazz thrown in thanks to what sounds like a saxophone in the background, playing up the bleak emptiness of the night time streets. The chill, however, is lost for the most part, instead blind-siding the listener with a random warm up that captures a hazy, gritty, back-alley sensation that one might find in a Noir film. And then there's "Svartkonst", which seems to have the simplest structuring of the release, an oddity given how some of the atmospheric leads present are more akin to Progressive Metal acts like Animals as Leaders or Scale the Summit. While not quite as stunning as some of the landscapes those bands can create, the subtle, restrictive terrain painted here can actually be a bit more on the detrimental side, sometimes feeling as if the band is treading into mainstream alternative rock thanks to some of the hooks scattered about, not to mention a fairly basic foundation in which the clean notes are met with distortion in the most predictable of ways. Thankfully, none of that really makes this a bad song. If anything there's a decent amount of energy that stays with the listener despite not having as much depth or passion as others carry with them.

Svartkonst may be the end result of three incredibly talented musicians bringing their regular influential sound into the "Post-" world, but, as a whole, this album just isn't that great. It is, however, a more refined version of the music that adorns the likes of Skogens Hjärta and Rakbladsvalsen. Of the five extensive tracks, "Efterglöd" is the only one that really stands out with a genuine emotion that makes you question what tragedy befell the composer(s) to create such a depressing nearly nine minutes of music. Other than that, "Invokation" and "Vy" do their best, but the intimacy of the former is what really stays with the listener, while the latter is just a good track, and that's about as far as you can go with it. If you're sitting with the lights dim and looking to unwind, Svartkonst will do the job, but it won't really stay with you, acting as more of a quick and temporary solution to retrieving your inner zen that you'll more than likely only revisit once in a while for the one or two special songs that manage to leave a lasting impact.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.