SARKE / The Haunting Atmospheric Metal Of Endo Feight

Back in 2008, out of a desire to release a solo album, Norway’s Thomas ‘Sarke’ Berglie, drummer with Khold and Tulus, created his project SARKE. Here, he was responsible for all lyrics and instrumentation with Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto, covering vocals and releasing Vorunah a year later.

SARKE – Endo Feight (Soulseller Records)

Release Date: 21 June 2024

Words: Jools Green

Fast-forward to 2024, and SARKE will release their eighth full-length, Endo Feight. It is stripped back and features just the four core members who have performed on every album since their second release, Oldarhian: Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto on vocals, Sarke covering bass and drums on this release, Steinar Gundersen of Khold covering guitars, and Anders Hunstad on keyboard, with no guest appearances this time around.

SARKE - Endo Feight is once again a superb listen
SARKE – Endo Feight is once again a superb listen

The eight-track, thirty-six-minute Endo Feight is once again a superb listen, like its seven predecessors, with not a single track amongst them I have not loved. This is quite an achievement despite each album having its own unique style.

Aruagint has a strong death rock-leaning, the raw, dark Viking concept album Bogefod based on the Eyrbyggja saga, Gastwerso leaning towards slower and more atmospheric moods.

Endo Feight’s predecessor, Allsighr, was, for me, at the time, the zenith of their achievements, partly because it featured the superb stick work of ex-Elaved drummer Cato Bekkevold. I really believed they couldn’t match that album, but they have, magnificently.

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Sound-wise, they continue to find inspiration from great ’70s rock bands, ’80s Speed Metal bands and ’90s Black Metal bands. They meld it creatively into a sound that is as unique and boundary-smashing as it is engaging.

Endo Feight covers the full spectrum of those inspirations, but the outstanding factor for me with this and every other SARKE album is the lyrics. Written by Sarke in English, they are straightforward and uncomplicated, sometimes stark and unnerving but always impactful.

Sarke only needs a few words to create a massive mental image, which is what I love about Sarke’s writing style. Nocturno Culto’s crystal clear but raw, scathingly bleak delivery amplifies that imagery superbly.

The eight-track, thirty-six-minute Endo Feight opens with the first single released from the album, Phantom Recluse, which immediately embarks on that hypnotically dark rolling crawl that features on many SARKE tracks. The keyboard-generated brass section is superbly impactful, adding to the sinister edge of the track. An utterly superb start to the album.

Death Construction delivers more eeriness, opening on haunting keyboards and guitarwork alongside a few flamboyant drum patterns. It’s a gritty chugger of a track that ebbs and builds in unnerving hypnotic waves.

The chorus of “the evil twins, are destroying each other, electric annihilation, opposite death construction,” which repeats again in the second half of the track, is unnervingly ambiguous but impactful. Compounded by Nocturno’s superb delivery, I love the off-kilter guitar work midway through.

Lost takes a different slant from the two previous pieces. Slower-paced, it’s an offering of contrasting elements that meld impactfully. It’s keyboard-based, but superb guitarwork coursing over it, much of which has a blues/rock feel, adds a haunting atmosphere. The spoken vocal delivery of the bleak lyrics adds a dark, unnerving quality to the track, impacted further by the sparse but well-placed drum beats.

The blues/rock guitar theme continues with Abyssal Echoes. Here, you get a full minute of sublime guitar work before the vocals kick in. At this point, the guitar work intensifies and darkens, and layers of keyboards and drum rhythms build on the depth and texture. I love how the power and intensity build across this track to almost stifling proportions, with the sound ebbing back for the final minute to a shadow of its earlier self.

Old Town Sinner takes the pace back up to the mid-pace of the first couple of tracks, delivering a mix of raw driving riffs that have an engaging ebb and build. These meander along a complex dark path not unlike the character in the lyrics. With haunting keys and precise paced drum work ,which also harbours a few tasty patterns, together makes the backdrop for the lyrics.

These lyrics paint a superb mental image of a wizened old character roaming the streets with an air of madness about him. Then a mid-point burst of frantic-paced, very unusual, almost deranged leadwork really grabs your attention and, in a way, cleverly reflects that eccentric old character described in the lyrics.

Dark and eerily foreboding from the offset, I Destroyed The Cosmos opens on slow haunting riffs and keyboards which drop back, becoming hauntingly reflective on the arrival of the vocals. The protraction on Nocturno Culto’s delivery is both powerful and unnerving. Bursts of riffing and swathes of haunting soaring keyboards are woven into the spaces between the vocals adding a huge amount of both atmosphere and texture to the sound. 

The second single release, In Total Allegiance, reveals a dark, eerie tale of the black arts of the occult. A massively impactful piece, the lyrics are superb, invoking strong imagery. There is a dark atmosphere created by the vocal layering, with a repeating, backing vocal “Aaaah!” across the duration of the track.

The otherworldly echo on the main lyric part of the vocal delivery again contains a lot of impactful protraction and phrasing. Then there is the dramatic pace and direction switching. The driving wall of riffs are overlaid by guitar bursts, eerie undulating tremolo picking and keyboard work that sounds like the wail of lost souls.

The final piece, Macabre Embrace, approaches you with a sinister crawl. Again, the lyrics have a superbly phrased delivery, alongside sparsely delivered dark riffs, to combine to create a dark, disturbing imagery. It’s a magnificently haunting piece, especially when the burst of wailing rock leadwork arrives. Closing on distant chants, the sound of a storm and a tolling bell sound created by the keyboards, album endings do not get much more dramatic than that.

Endo Feight was recorded and mixed between August and December 2023 at H10 Productions by Lars-Erik Westby and mastered by Sofia von Hage and Thomas Eberger at Stockholm Mastering.

I confess I have been wishing my life away from the point SARKE announced this album, desperate for the day it would grace my welcoming ears.

It has been so worth the wait. This is a superb release, so naturally, no favourite tracks. Every one is a winner for me, yet again. 

The intriguing cover illustration is by Kjetil Nystuen.

Endo Feight will be available as a 12″ limited edition vinyl in a choice of three colours, CD or digital download.

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