Vera : The pioneer work in Viking metal style of the legendary, yet widely underrated Mithotyn lives on these days in two Swedish bands: Falconer (with Stefan Weinerhall and Karsten Larsson) and King Of Asgard (with Karl Beckman and the same Karsten Larsson). Coincidentally Falconer just released a new album last month (read about ’Black Moon Rising’ in our previous edition), now it is promptly followed by the third studio album of the slightly more raucous Vikings from King Of Asgard. Without further preamble: ‘Karg’ will win the hearts of any genuine Viking metal fan. Here the hoarse, rough vocals have remained and they verge more to Amon Amarth than having a flirt with power metal.
The melodic death metal with a proper blackened injection of King Of Asgard already hooked us for life since their debut ’Fi’mbulvintr’. Since then they released an album every two years, recorded at the Sonic Train Studios with producer Andy LaRocque (King Diamond). Following on 2012’s ’…To North’, now it is time for the Swedish titled ‘Karg’, which means barren and desolate. Indeed, in addition to the glorious Viking atmosphere, one can find a kind of compelling undercurrent of bare roughness. On one side it makes the material a bit less accessible, on the other side it really gets you addicted to it after few spins. It is just a little bit different, but without any doubt the well-known rough diamond approach of our Swedish friends. We are truly enthusiastic about that!
The single ‘The Runes Of Hel’ kicks off in blackened and furious heaviness, glorious and ferocious with its inciting timbre, but there is also a moment when they slacken down pace while guitar skills really get epic. In ‘The Trickster’ some clean Viking choirs join in and there is a stamping rhythm that reminds me of Amon Amarth. The hoarse vocals of guitarist Karl Beckman wade through a sea of killer riffs in the mid-paced ‘Highland Rebellion’. Towards the end it goes in crescendo with marvellous guitar melodies. ‘Remnant Of The Past’ offers us a low-pitched narrative-like voice with bass lines, but one can also hear those massive clean Viking chants. There is some melancholic touch in it, while riffs resonate en echo like them ponderous Black Sabbath rifforama. One track really leaps to the eye: ‘Omma’. It begins with classical piano, passing into chunky riffs, but above all it is the conjuring cadenza of singing the title that gives a magical aureole to this song. With songs, going from four till eight minutes long, King Of Asgard always takes the time to build it out into an epic, and this time also barren, gem. On the digipak one can find a bonus track. It is a cover version of Bathory’s ‘Total Destruction’, thus not from their epic era, but pummelling and brutal they give them hell for one more time.