It’s been a couple of years since Aruagint was released and “Jaunt of the Obsessed” and “Strange Pungent Odyssey” are still getting an airing through my speakers. As such I was pleasantly surprised when Bogefod landed in my inbox. As Ted/Nocturno Occulto is the vocalist comparisons to Darkthrone will always abound but listeners would pay to remember that this band takes its name from its founder . Sarke (or Thomas Bergli as his mum knows him) created this “super-group” in 2008 when he fancied a departure from his work with Khold. Badgering Ted/Nocturno Occulto into singing for him a new beast was formed alongside Anders Hunstad from El Caco and Steinar Gundersen from Satyricon (amongst others). These guys have a great pedigree and have the chops to back up their rep.
When singing for Darkthrone, Nocturno Occulto has shown a penchant to pogo from punk to power metal alongside his old pal Fenriz. Here Sarke keep things in the blackened thrash mould and the vocals help create a dark and eerie atmosphere. Blackened thrash is a hybrid that is oft talked about but often just means bands that have foregone blasts for mosh parts and have some of the members have wiped their corpse paint off. Sarke really pull off the sound. They have the atmosphere of early Darkthrone and Satyricon whilst bringing the chug of Bathory and Kreator .
This album is built around the story of Torolv Bogefod – a Viking zombie of sorts that featured in the Eyrbyggja saga 1000 years ago. The band have incorporated folk elements into the weaving of this tale and have used some classic instruments including a 100 year old guitar. Does anything get more metal than a Zombie Viking????
Opener “Taken” manages to sound bleak and foreboding at the same time and will allow for plenty of grimacing and invisible orange squeezing for any bedroom kvltist. But what is this? Soaring guitar solos that flip from sounding like summat off an Exploited track to off classic 70’s rock. Would be crazy if it didn’t work! “Blood of Men” has a Slayer like intro and then we are off and away on a darkened ride across the metal landscape. This track sounds rough like a hacksaw but that just adds to the appeal. It chops and changes and my old limbs can’t keep up – I keep dropping the air instruments. “Barrow of Torolv” slows things down with the acoustic intro segueing into a distinctly ominous and doomy track. Candlemass are brought to mind for me but with Nocturno’s gruff strangled vocals cutting a swathe through the track rather than Messiah’s operatic boom. “Alernation” picks ups the pace once more before “The Wicked Transient Sleep” takes off at a gallop! This track takes off like a thoroughbred with an Iceland butcher behind it before dropping back into a dark doomy hole and then what can only be described as a black/doom beatdown! Love it! “Burn” that follows adds a little Celtic Frost into the mix with even a slight Western sound to the guitars which goes with the avant-garde feel that Tom G and his pals used to create.
“Dawning” is a haunting ballad with a female vocalist. I cannot find her name on the web but suffice to say she has a beautiful voice, both uplifting and melancholy at once. The band have demanded that his album be listened to as a single piece and I can see why. This is a journey as well as a concept that deserves to be taken in one expedition rather than short bursts.
“Evil Heir” sounds …well evil. Imagine Live Undead but with runes and frost dripping from the eyeless cadaver. Which brings me to “Sunken” which again has a real Hanneman sound to the guitars . As the refrain “Ashes to ashes to burn!” fades I feel that the band have created something that should stand out in 2016 for lovers of heavy metal. Genre’s and super-groups be damned. This is just a great album with no filler.
Sarke have produced a fourth long player that sets out their stall and delivers an epic saga of evil metal. Look behind you for the rotting Bogefod then go buy it!
(8.5/10 Matt Mason)