Review by Jason Guest
Release date: 22 July 2014
Two years almost to the day since their second album …to North (reviewed here) was released and Sweden’s King of Asgard’s third album is upon us. Making a valiant debut with 2010’s Fi’mbulvintr, it was with …to North that the band’s song-craft showed distinct signs of development and their own identity coming more to the fore. Translating as “barren”, Karg is anything but. Not only is the band’s sound now much more individual, but in taking their immediate surroundings and ancestral heritage as lyrical as well as atmospheric inspiration, Karg is a concentrated and refined piece of work.
Like its predecessors, the band’s roots – musical and cultural – drive the album, and in it can be felt the power of both. With riffs as sharp as they are colossal, drums that beat (and occasionally blast) with all the might of Thor’s massive mallet, and a fiercely-determined vocal delivery, the melodic and the folk is merged with the heft of death and black metal. With a stripped down, riff-based approach, the tracks are more direct and minimalistic and thus they are all the stronger for it. Of all the tracks, ‘The Trickster’ and ‘Omma’ stand out as the most accomplished. While ‘The Trickster’ is a brutally unstoppable beast of a track, ‘Omma’ has a deep atmospheric quality about it, something that feels as if the land from which the band took their inspiration summoned the band into existence in order for it to be heard. If we consider them the two ends of the vast spectrum that this album spans, there is as much determination as there is diversity between its poles.
King of Asgard’s third album is about as authentic, confident, assertive, and commanding as it gets. With another sterling job by long-time producer Andy LaRocque, the spirits that inform the band and this album are made flesh. And what beasts they are. Recommended.
7.5 out of 10
- The Runes Of Hel
- The Trickster
- Highland Rebellion
- Remnant Of The Past
- The Heritage Throne
- Total Destruction (Bonus Track)