I’m a little conflicted about “Aruagint,” the new album by Sarke.
The band Sarke was put together by Tulus alum Sarke Bergli five years ago. Though he pulled drum and guitar duty in the early days of the band, it has grown into a full five man outfit and he has moved his talents to the bass, in addition to the writing role that you would expect in an eponymous project. The team he has put together, including Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone and Steinar Gundersen of Satyricon, has an impressive Black Metal pedigree, but Sarke is by no means a Black Metal project.
Very good bands defy genre, and make no mistake, Sarke is very good, but if I had to put a label on them I would call them Doom with a dash of other influences from across the Metal landscape.
The music is impressive, to say the least. They move deftly from mid tempo grinds to something just south of speed metal, from powerful riffs to shifting, trance inducing soundscapes without once throwing the technicality of what they’re doing in the listener’s face. It’s masterful. So why am I conflicted? It has to do with Nocturno’s vocal performance — and before I go any farther, I should point out that I seem to be the only reviewer in Metaldom (it’s a word now, shut up) that doesn’t love the vocals as much as they do the rest of the album.
Don’t get me wrong, the vocals are quite good. They’re very interesting, and they express the wonderfully surreal, dark lyrics well. But, while the rest of the band sounds like they’re exploring an entire world, uncovering some new landscape with each song, Nocturno is doing the exact same thing for the entire album. That’s not unusual for him, though, and I’m generally a fan. While he may have shown a lot of breadth over the course of his career, it’s pretty typical for him to stick to a style, a theme, a mood for an entire album. In most of his projects, though, that has been the case for the music as well. In “Aruagint,” the music is going places and my mind wants to follow, but it keeps getting pulled back by the vocals.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy the album a great deal and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of either Doom Metal or of the band members’ previous projects. I’ll probably listen to it one song at a time or in a mixed track list from now on and never think about my complaint again. My favorite track is “Icon Usurper.” Check that one out, and if you like it you’ll almost definitely be into the rest of the album as well.
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