Two years ago a Norwegian project drew the attention of the metal world: a band called Sarke released their first album called Vorunah and had a bit of raw sound to show, in a way that only Celtic Frost were capable of doing. Of course people tried to make a parallel between Tom Warrior’s child and this new project. But one thing is to have been influenced by some artist. The other is to be just a copycat. Of course Sarke was much, much more than a mere copy of CF. They had their own style.
For those of you who still don’t know, Sarke is the drummer of acts such as Tulus, Khold and Valhall. Here he plays everything, and has the most perfect partner in crime for doing this job: none less than Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone).
For the sophomore album, the duo is back together and more creative than ever. Called Oldarhian, this is what I dreamt metal would sound like in 2011. It’s not “modern”, yet it is innovative, strange and tasty without compromising the metallic side of the equation in an enchanting way that only Norwegian bands can do.
Differently from Vorunah, Oldarhian have a more sophisticated approach, I can say it’s a step forward from what the first album was.
From the get-go, the track Condemn shows the cold gestalt that dominates the whole album. Mid-paced, with defined phrases, sick and with the Nocturno Culto’s vocalization giving a flat sentiment of intended apathy, contrasting with the crazy creativity of Sarke himself. Doing everything else, Sarke seems to know his limitations as a multi-instrumentalist, taking full advantage from what he knows, and delivering it with comeliness. Simple doesn’t mean subpar and the blend of punk, thrash and black metal is simply perfect. I wouldn’t dare to label it.
Pilgrim of The Occult shows a strange and enthralling hypnotic riff just to debouch in an obscure chorus that sends shivers up my spine. It has a strange tempo in the middle of the song, made for headbanging and every time I hear it, I can’t help but stop what I’m doing and get the air guitar out.
Then, the best song of the album. Wait, the best song of 2011 (so far). Pessimist is a number that will make the most depressive fan of Xasthur feeling content and willing to distribute hugs to people. This is what I call depressive, motherfucker! And it’s not even for some kind of doomish approach. The song is upbeat, resembling Kreator’s Violent Revolution but with Nocturno Culto despoiling it all with his words of hate and bitterness. This song really evoked all my sentiments of indifference towards humanity. It’s an anthem to lost souls. For this song alone the album deserves the title of “perfect” but there’s more to come!
Flay the Wolf and closer The Stranger Brew are legitimate thrash/punk attacks, while the first carries a Norwegian sentiment in it, as if the atmosphere was pervaded by some keyboard part extracted from an Emperor album. Pure Norwegian Metal!
Passage to Oldarhian is a cold song, It’s not as great as the rest of the album, but nothing is perfect, not even Sarke hehehehe. The track gives a sense of continuation and it’s not, by any means, a bad track. It’s just regular.
Now, the more creative side of the whole album might seem strange if you’re hearing it for the first time. Think about of a blend of Enslaved's last albums, Ihsahn and a clean version of Darkthrone (yes, it’s possible). Sounds confusing? Not if you give the songs Captured, Paradigm Lost, Novel Dawn and Burning of the Monoliths, some due spins - all of it in a sequence of sad preludes, interludes, and postludes, interposed by varying cadences, predominantly slow. A keyboard is almost omnipresent. The riffs are strongly written and the drumming is sometimes syncopated, sometimes straight, but always giving space to witty phrases that are somewhat long, so one doesn’t get lost by tech-whatever. It’s not chaotic. It represents the chaos of the world. There resides the sagacity and geniality of the Oldarhian.
The lyrics attest to these lost visions of the world, being weird and catchy, unpromising and cathartic.
Unfriendly, yet gravitational, Sarke created a new form of making metal. Without exaggeration, he, with the support of Nocturno Culto, produced an alternative way of making metal, in this case alternative meaning a good thing. It’s not just a mere copy of Celtic Frost. But it is as cold, strong and creative as that band.