Written by: EW on 28/05/2009 22:13:41

The problem with bands like Sarke is that any success gleaned is going to be shrouded in mystery as to whether it is genuinely deserved, or in this case, the result of recruiting Darkthrone's Nocturno Culto for vocal duties. You see Sarke was formed essentially as a side-project last year by Sarke himself (Thomas Berglie - of Khold) who writes and plays all instruments with Nocturno hired as vocalist for the job. Call me a cynic but I reckon it's the latters' appointment that has already seen the band booked for Wacken Open Air right on the back of "Vorunah"'s release, but hey ho, Mr. Culto has earnt the privilege afforded him through years of fronting black metal's most righteous duo so good luck to him.

When one is offered a promo apparently influenced by "Mayhem, Slayer, Darkthrone, Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Death, Motörhead and Kreator" I naturally did the obvious thing: lifted my jaw off the floor, only after having fallen from the chair. Not actually expecting an album to audibly to recognise all of those greats (that would be the best album ever!) I've come away from "Vorunah" hearing what I roughly expected from that list, and ultimately a little under-whelmed. From said list the closest resemblances can be found to old Celtic Frost, newer Darkthrone and pretty much all Motörhead - a cocktail of black/thrash/heavy metal bodged together with some unexpectedly soothing moments of tranquillity and dark, chilled beauty. Minus the subtler moments of "13 Candles" and "Old" I find myself thinking of a less pissed Aura Noir, or a less grim Nifelheim more than anyone else however as "Vorunah" is a rough and ready kind of album, blissfully raw and decadent but also very simple and straightforward in its' production and performance. Nocturno is instantly recognisable by his grim snarl and Sarke's playing relies on the same kind of jamming more commonly found on records of a bygone era when the music more than anything else did the talking.

The likes of "13 Candles" and the title track bare witness to a band not reliant on the same old tricks through quaint synth usage which compliment nicely against the crusty, decadent feel of album highlight "Frost Junkie". However despite these positives the spark needed to kick the start the album into life never appears. The ongoing mid-pace becomes a little stagnant until we fade into the album's most aggressive track, closer "Dead Universe", which as the shortest song feels like too little too late to really save the album. The inclusion of Nocturno Culto simply can't be ignored when judging the band's status, and even though his aged growl is always a delight to hear, the moribund nature overall saps away too much of my enthusiasm to really enjoy the album and prevent it from becoming one I'm unlikely to frequent now that this review has been written.

Download: Frost Junkie, 13 Candles
For The Fans Of: Darkthrone, Aura Noir, Celtic Frost
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 27.04.09
Indie Recordings

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