King of Asgard – …to North

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Review by Jason Guest
Villagers, run to the hills! The Vikings are coming! What, again? Yep, and this time it’s the turn of Sweden’s King of Asgard to invade us with many a tale of battles and valiant heroes from Norse mythology. With many a village pillaged and many a man, woman, and child slain, and all of the tales gloriously plundered time and again, this is a difficult album to avoid making comparisons with the host of countless other bands and albums that draw on the same subject matter for their inspiration. Yet despite what their name – another of Odin’s titles – and lyrical content may indicate, King of Asgard are more than Viking Metal as the grunt of death metal and the grim savagery of black metal are infused into their colossal sound. Where 2010’s Fi’mbulvintr was a valiant debut, …to North sees the band’s song-craft developing further, their muscle increasing, and their march toward their own unique sound making much in the way of advances.

The call/response piece between the mighty blast of a guitar chord and the deep bellowing horn of the thirty four second intro unites the past with the present as King of Asgard summon the strength of marching legions for the nine battle cries that make up the rest of this album. It’s a simple yet powerful dialogue that gives an early indication of the power that underpins …to North. The pace of the introductory rhythmic incantation picks up for ‘The Nine Worlds Burn’ where the band’s might is unleashed in a torrent of riffs that lean more to the darker side rather than the melodic or folk side of metal. The groove-heavy ‘The Dispossessed’ combines melody in the riffs with muscle in Beckman’s menacing vocals, a trait that continues into ‘Gap of Ginnungs’ and through tension and sheer force of the rest of the album. By the time ‘Up On The Mountain’ appears and takes us on an arduous ever-ascending journey strewn with enough charging riffs, hammering drums, and threatening war cries to stir even the most peace-loving pacifist into a frenzied berserker fury.

With the source revisited time and again, there remain little surprises in the darkened forests of the metal landscape, and King of Asgard has done very well to create such a solid and well written album. With more variation than their debut, it’s safe to say that …to North breaks little new ground. To save King of Asgard from disappearing among the ever-marching legions of those in search of meaning and purpose in a culture where myth and meaning have all but vanished, they need to make a mighty step forward for album number three. In the meantime, should anyone else decide a visit …to North is required to fill their pockets with the quarry of legends and myths, they may well find themselves leaving empty handed thanks to King of Asgard’s sterling job of seizing what remained.

7 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Intro
  2. The Nine Worlds Burn
  3. The Dispossessed
  4. Gap Of Ginnungs
  5. Bound To Reunite
  6. Nordvegr
  7. Up On The Mountain
  8. Plage-Ridden Rebirth
  9. Harvest (The End)
  10. …to North