In 2016 Sarke released Bogefod a concept album built around a millennia old Viking legend involving a zombie king. It was as fantastic as it sounds. So now Noctruno Culto, Sarke, Anders Hunstad, Asgeir Mickelson and Steinar Gundersen are back with their fifth full length. They have foregone the concept album route but have kept a theme running throughout of time passing. “Viige Urh” translates to “a time that’s already lived and cannot be changed”. Heavy stuff!
Heavy this album is. IF you are not familiar with Sarke they lay down mid tempo groovy Black metal or Black ‘n’ Roll. Nocturno Culto (Ted to his mates) vocals give every track the dirty gravelly raucousness that he injects into Darkthrone to great effect.
Opening with the title track Sarke mix creepy atmospherics and blackened riffs with some soaring guitar leads. If Black Metal is normally known for its frostiness and bleak outlook this is pure grease and organic battery. Fans of Abbath’s Motorhead worship in “I” will dig the groove that is wrote through the middle of this album. “Dagger Entombed” see’s the band unearthing what appears to be an enchanted Viking dagger whilst powerful orchestration and big guitars accompany the diggers.
Pure Power Metal axe blasts herald “Age of sail” and I only wish I still had the flowing mane to stand on a craggy cliff to watch the fleet come in whilst Nocturno turns storyteller as a Gary Moore blues passage winds between the big groovy beats and riffs. “Upir” that follows is driven by Asgeirs tight drumming and adds a jazz nuance to the heaviness. It is worth saying that Anders Hunstads keys are used to great effect on the album adding extra dimensions and lifting the tracks into a different realm. This is not synths stuffed in for bombast or fluff, the orchestration is fantastic.
The lilting ethereal vocals of Lena Floitmoen draws the listener into “Jutul” before a grinding riff reminiscent of the opening bars of “Iron Man” crushes the beauty beneath its leather boot. The chorus is a duet or is that a duel, between gruff Nocturno and Lena’s soaring larynx. Lena is a session musician who previously featured on Trond Holter’s Dracula Queen of the Dead. Her pipes offer a fantastic foil for her gravel throated fellow Norwegian. “Punishment to Confessions” that follows carries the rhythm of Jutul through and adds some Prog styling before “Knifehall” erupts out of the speakers. Frantic bass and galloping guitar lines propel this towards a Nordic breakdown of prolific pit proportions. This is like a Viking riding into battle on a jet propelled Triumph!
Viige Urh signs off with “Evolution and Fate”. At first sounding as though it will spiral off into the bleak cosmos like Thorns an earthy hand grips onto its tail and doesn’t let it get lost in the void despite what the lyrics say. The melody is as beautiful as the rhythm is thunderous and a false ending allows one last soaring guitar line.
Sarke consistently produce magnificent records that showcase the myriad talents of its members. “Viige Urh” is a mesmerising journey through harshness and melody with a beer in one hand and a sword in the other. Bloody brilliant!
(9/10 Matt Mason)