Sometimes, the choice of an appropriate name is really worth its weight in gold. Take, for instance, the Swedish Melodic Death/Viking Metal quartet King Of Asgard.
I had absolutely no clue whatsoever what these lads were about prior to being granted access to their latest studio album “Karg” but I was immediately attracted to them as, the first though that came onto my mind when confronted by their glorious-sounding name was of a band with a strong affiliation towards the works of Bathory.
As I was soon to found it, my instinctive assessment was not quite off the mark.
Before we all start referring to just another Bathory-clone here, it is really worth stating that is title of sorts is definitely not descriptive of King Of Asgard.
Granted; the nine compositions on offer do incorporate riffs heavily influenced in style and melody by those employed by the mighty Quorthon for the best part of two decades but there is much more to these guys than that.
While I am not suggesting that “Karg” is the most original-sounding of albums there is a desire on the part of the band to ‘stir things up’ a bit – a need which is expressed through lead melodies and clever vocal passages whose Death meets Black Metal approach will excite fans of bands as diverse as Satyricon and Entombed in equal terms.
It will be the fans of Entombed that will first get a kick from the band’s third studio release as the groove infused “The Runes Of Hel” will be closer to their liking while the six and a half minute follow up “The Trickster” is more youth-orientated, courtesy of its Amon Amarth themed riffs and vocal melodies.
It is indeed Karl Beckmann’s vocals which dominate the proceedings in “Highland Rebellion” while the first highlight of the album comes in the shape of the Satyricon-influenced head banging tune “Remnant Of The Past”.
The album continues on an equally impressive manner with the piano-led, epic-sounding & Bathory-influenced melodies of “Omma” while the duet “The Heritage Throne” / “Huldran” add a few more Black Metal elements in this interesting melting pot of an album.
If anthemic sing-along vocal themes is what you’re looking for in an album then the five and a half minute “Rising” will definitely be right up your street, while a pretty predictable version of Bathory’s classic “Total Destruction” provides further proof of where the band’s musical affiliations lie.
Providing an appropriate rating for an album like “Karg” is not as straight forward as the above analysis suggests.
While Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) has done a pretty good job production wise and the songs on offer are filled with smart riffs and catchy melodies, what you and I are eventually exposed to is pleasant and entertaining material but far from being described as either original or breathtaking.
A solid release nevertheless.