Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

Sarke has created another unstoppable metal music amalgam on their seventh album, Allsighr.

Sarke is an unusual metal band from Oslo, Norway. They have released six previous albums, the most recent one being Gastwerso in 2019, and they have been at this for ony a decade. Widely regarded as seminal players in metal fusion, Sarke’s reputation will be embellished by their newest album with its boundless creativity. The musicians are Nocturno Culto (vocals), Sarke (bass), Steinar Gundersen (guitar), Anders Hunstad (keys), and Cato Bekkevold (drums).

There are ten rugged tracks on Allsighr. The opener is “Bleak Reflections,” and it has groove-laced primary riffs that propel it along its dark path. Sarke is known for an atypical mixology, combining basic rock from the 1970s with curious bursts and – least likely to go with the others – black metal infusions. It is crackle and stomp with a gloomy cloak strolling in the swirling mist. The perfect example is the song “Grim Awakening,” which has a mid-tempo riff and dreamy keys and then a chorus that goes, “I leap into cruelty / I leap into hate / a grim awakening / will seal my fate.” Juxtaposition on parade.

There are many songs to admire on this album. A couple of my favorites include “Funeral Fire” for its inventive creepiness and “Beheading of the Circus Director” for its incredible urgency and unstoppable optimism. This music will completely take you over if you let it. And you should let it. Listen to “Through The Thorns” and tell me I am wrong. I am not getting over this album anytime soon.

The drop date for Allsighr is Friday, November 5th through Soulseller Records. Snap it up on-line or at your favorite local music store. It’s a ripper. Recommended.




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Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

Furnace, Dark Vistas review (Soulseller Records 2020)

Swedish Death Metal band Furnace release their second album this year, Dark Vistas.

Rogga Johansson (guitars, lead vocals) and Peter Svensson (bass, backing vocals) are joined by drummer Lars Demoké for the concept album Dark Vistas. It is astonishing to have a second album this year from Furnace (according to the Metal Archives), most particularly because it is essentially one big story. That is a lot of music, taken together. Maybe it is just a release timing coincidence. In any case, it is great to have both albums out now. The other album is Black Stone Church, and make sure you give it a listen, too. It is very good.

The primary themes on the new one are in the Cthulhu Mythos H. P. Lovecraft created. The dark, magical world of decadence and suffering is the perfect place for Death Metal, and Furnace make the most of the complementarities.

The music is on the Heavy Metal side of Death Metal – that is, melodic and broad with enough of an edge to know there is a knife. The vocals are coarse and decipherable while the tempo hovers in the midrange. Cinematic I would call it.

If you have read Lovecraft, then you will slide right into the narrative of the album. If not, you can catch up as you go along. The music is riff-heavy, leaning on the vocals and guitar harmony rather than big lead breaks. Some of my favorite tracks include “From The Blackest Void” which manages to be dreary and upbeat at the same time, and “The Calling” (released as a single) for its grand scope and its insistent percussion. There is a through line binding the entire set together and so you will hear recurring elements until it is all resolved in the end.

Dark Vistas is out now and available from Soulseller Records. You can also get it at Bandcamp.


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Furnace, Dark Vistas review (Soulseller Records 2020)

Review of Svarttjern’s New Release, Shame Is Just A Word (Soulseller Records, 2020)

The new full-length album from Svarttjern is an intentional attack on your senses. From thrash to riff and back again, Shame Is Just A Word has a reach beyond black metal.

The band first coalesced in 2003 then went through a sound-finding evolution that ultimately lead to their first album, Misanthropic Path of Madness, released in 2009. They have stayed on point ever since, putting new music out every two or three years, largely in the same habitat. Always reliably grisly and reliably loud, Svarttjern minds no master and puts down exactly what they want. Shame Is Just A Word is a tour through the band’s cosmography that shows you the corners and the center of their music.

The opening song, “Prince of Disgust,” is a pile driver, fast and heavy, and it sets the table for what comes next. The music and vocals are more decadent than gloomy, more indulgent than ritualistic. Songs like “Frost Embalmed Abyss” have a straight-forward metal structure – solid guitar riffs, linear set-up from one section to the next, growling yet decipherable vocals (mostly in English), and a short, whirly lead break late in the song instead of just past the halfway mark. Songs like “Ravage Me” are more syncopated, thrash-based tirades, a theme particularly revealed in the meticulous drumming. The set tilts back and forth between these poles. The closer is the title track and it functions as a kind of summary of the whole album, a clear declaration that Svarttjern means what it says and that this music is not for the faint of heart nor weak of spirit. There is a genuine guttural, basic human aggression in these songs. You can hear it as a throwback to the grand days of Norwegian Black Metal, or as an homage. In any case, whatever else you hear in it, the heavy hammer you are looking for is there.

It is a solid set, straddling several genre and sub-genre lines while consistently delivering a weighty sound. As such, there is a broad appeal here to fans of metal music in general, not just Black Metal specialists. Svarttjern does not have any US tour dates listed on their social media right now, and only a couple European ones, so if you want to hear them, Shame Is Just A Word is your best bet. Recommended.


Review of Svarttjern’s New Release, Shame Is Just A Word (Soulseller Records, 2020)