Pioneering Norwegian Extreme Metal outfit Sarke may have started out thirteen years ago as a solo project for Khold’s drummer Sarke, out of a desire to release his own work, but it swiftly became so much more, a full-on live band in its own right. They are back with their seventh full-length studio release, Allsighr, which continues in that unusual meld of ’70s Rock, ’80s Speed Metal and ’90s Black Metal.
Sarke – Allsighr (Soulseller Records)
Release Date: 5 November 2021
Words: Jools Green
Each of the previous six releases have put a different angle on the Sarke sound, in particular, 2013s Aruagint, which took on an insane Death Rock slant. Then their fourth release, 2016s Bogefod, was a concept album based on the Eyrbyggja Saga.
Allsighr’s predecessor Gastwerso of 2019 showed Sarke differently, with the music taking a slower and more atmospheric path. With Allsighr, the most exciting factor for me, other than the finished result, is that drumming legend Cato Bekkevold (ex: Enslaved) is behind the kit for this release, adding a very fluid and organic undercurrent to the overall sound. His very natural flowing style suits the uniquely complex and groovy sound perfectly.
The ten-track, forty-one-minute offering is such an unbelievably easy and addictive listen, one of those rare albums you can happily leave on repeat without tiring of it. End to end, it’s a clever meld of contrasts. It is quirky and eclectic, sinister yet groovy, retro in content yet forward-thinking in the way it is formulated. With a unique psychedelic slant balanced against more doomy and dwelling moments, this album is pulled together with superbly raw but clear vocals from Nocturno Culto. You can’t fail to love it, and it has something for everyone.
Allsighr opens with Bleak Reflections, a dark and driving track punctured with sumptuous leads and chugging yet groovy passages. The next track Grim Awakening is lyrically dark, intriguing, catchy and enticingly sinister, while Funeral Fire is even more eerie than the previous tracks, with more sinister chugging that builds in waves, punctuated with ominous keyboards.
Title track Allsighr is a dark, suspenseful offering, with groovier moments and superb, unmistakably Cato, flourishes of drum work coming to the fore in the second half.
Beheading Of The Circus Director takes things in a different direction. It is a wonderfully wild, up-tempo retro Blackened Prog-rocker with sleazy, groovy rocking leads and keyboards towards the close.
Through The Thorns takes a dark, sinister downturn once more. Even the lighter elements are tinged with an ominous air. Glacial Casket is lyrically and musically icy to the core, sending a shiver through you as you listen, with the addition also of some wonderfully haunting choral work.
Sarke takes a step back for Sleep In Fear, a brief but superbly eerie piano interlude, out of which the soaring opening leadwork of The Reverberation Of The Lost bursts forth. The rest of the track is a dark, ominous wanderer that flits around intriguingly and is punctuated with flamboyant swathes of rocking leads and retro keyboards. It is as crazy as it is fascinating.
Imprisoned, the final piece is powerfully dark, lyrically and eerily haunting musically, making it a magnificent closer.
The suitably eerie artwork for Allsighr was created by Kjell Åge Meland, and the album will be available as a CD, LP, or in digital format.