Like gimmicks? Go away. Sarke return with fiery, platter of true metal on ‘Aruagint’

sarkeCombining huge metal forces to create a greater whole sounds like it should be a wonderful idea, but more often than not, it isn’t. But we have two great examples of metal supergroups, per se, we’re going to roll out the first two days this week that prove you can make a mighty band out of players who made their names elsewhere and still come away with something magnificent.

Today we’ll look at Sarke, a group that brings together a number of experienced, influential players into a band that has made some of the truest, most fun metal of the last half decade and have done so again on their new record “Aruagint,” the follow-up to 2011’s “Oldarhian,” itself a fantastic little platter that provides hours of great, honest metal fun. What started as a solo project for bassist Sarke, himself a veteran of bands such as Tulus, Khold, and Valhall, has morphed into something even greater. Joining him is Nocturno Culto, one of metal’s most honest, ardent warriors who you know from Darkthrone, and he has provided vocals for this band since its start in 2008. If you don’t like Culto, you don’t like metal. Period. Over the years, the band has taken on guitarist Steinar Gundersen (ICS Vortex, Spiral Architect), drummer Asgeir Mickelson (a zillion bands including Scariot, Thornbound, Ihsahn), and keyboard player Anders Huntstad (Tulus, live member of Satyricon) to form a new whole. They destroy. Simple as that.

sarke coverSarke, who will appear at next year’s Maryland Deathfest in an absolute must-see performance, also have beefed up their sound on “Aruagint,” still plying their trade heavily in death metal but also adding thrash and even prog tendencies, making them a really involved, mentally bruising unit. The result of their creative process for their third record is nine songs that run the gamut of metal power, bend your brain here and there, and provide nearly 40 minutes of fun that is free of trying to live up to genre standards, in total defiance of trends, and serve as a reminder of these guys standing as metal’s guard who are here to show what living this style is all about.

You get a great taste of what’s in store with opener “Jaunt of the Obsessed,” a song that’s full of punk fury, Culto taking total command over the song, and the rest of the group driving hard, putting deep bruises all over your psyche. “Jodau Aura” follows and has an Apocalyptic pace, with Culto sounding like Tom G Warrior, slowly delivering his diatribes, while the rest of the band settles into a nasty, muddy pace. The song is gurgly and menacing, and the music has a fantastical feel to it, like it’s one chapter in a great storybook. “Ugly” is a change of pace, getting somewhat light-hearted, but still crushing, with Culto howling, “I’m ugly, ugly as hell!” “Strange Pungent Odyssey” is bluesy and swaggers, something you might not expect from this band, and its groovy shuffle manages to maintain that sense of evil flowing through it.

“Walls of Ru” is really where the prog tendencies start to rise up, and they remain a major part of the band’s musical offense for the remainder of the album. This track is jerky, punchy, and thrashy, yet toward the end of the song, some wooshy, windy keyboards come in and give the atmosphere a whole different feel. “Salvation” is violent and charged up, with the rhythm section declaring war and pulverizing your senses, awesome riffs flowing, and Culto taking complete command of the sound, sounding a little gravelly and raw. “Skeleton Sand” is the most interesting cut on here, as it opens with an eeriness and synth lather and eventually goes doomy. There are heavily melodic parts, and Culto even tries to smooth out his growls a bit, while the prog fire once again flares up. “Icon Usurper” has that Celtic Frost feel again, especially with the vocals, and the guitar work has a sci-fi, outer space adventure feel to it. Closer “Rabid Hunger” is that savage, uncompromising conclusion you expect, with creative guitar work, fluid, mind-altering soloing, and more devastating vocal work from Culto, who puts his bloody stamp on this record and demonstrates once again why you should hang on his every word.

Sarke are a joy to behold, a great blast of metal that is honest, true, and free of modern influences that have watered down the scene. Each record finds the band progressing and getting more ambitious, and “Aruagint” is just a fucking blast. Don’t worry about what everyone else is listening to or what morons on the Internet are pressuring you into hearing. Take a bite out of true, pure metal and enjoy the power that Sarke brings to the world.

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