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Perished > Kark > Reviews
Perished - Kark

KARK OF THE AGES - 91%

Phaesforos, December 31st, 2015

Kark is another (out of many) lost and less known jewel of black metal. It was recorded in the late '90s, when Norwegians started to take more "seriously" the mixing section, thus it deservedly represents its era. It may be said without exaggeration that Kark is a MASTERPIECE of Norwegian black metal. Leaving aside the fact that it was recorded almost two decades ago and that is actually a lost link of an almost deceased genre, Kark is masterpiece because of its beyond glorious music.

What one could easily realise by listening to Kark, is that it's a black metal deal with extended use of keyboards and good production. What you can find with a further listening though, are incredibly creative riffs and fathomless inspiration. Kark contains 7 tracks (plus exquisite introduction) of absolute black metal majesty. Its main strength lies in the great and imaginative guitar themes, usually escorted by atmospheric keyboards, which grab you instantly by the neck. Yes, there is an extended use of keyboards but this is not actually a symphonic black metal release and that's because of the absolute equality between synth and guitars in the final mix. Here keyboards come and go very discreetly and it doesn't sound like something's missing when they fade.

Tremolo guitars dominate most of the time with some harping/leading breaks and a few heavy-thrashy fills which were very noticeable and innovative back in the '90s but not for the over-consuming download addict of 2015. Bass is perceptible and dynamic all the time and it's laying a "carpet" of low buzzing that functions as a "glue" that binds the instruments together. Maybe that's because drums sound a little "dry" and flat in the mix (this kind of over-produced, digitalized sound on drums was very common in the late '90s). Drumming's great though, blast-beating and double bass are almost everywhere but not overused. Low/mid paced passages often follow blast/up-beat burstings. Many themes are based on 3/4 measuring and that reminds of the early days of Dimmu Borgir. Also when rhythm slows down and keyboards are leading, Kark brings to mind Thy Serpent's "Forests of Witchery". I could also describe Kark's style as a more simplified and less chaotic approach of "In the Nightside Eclipse" or Obtained Enslavement's "Witchcraft". Vocals are simply perfect and mixed in a way that sounds intensively like Enslaved's "Vikingligr Veldi" and maybe that's not coincidental, because "Pa Nattens Vintervinger" is a song that also refers perceptibly to the aesthetics of Vikingligr Veldi.

I believe that Kark's greatest moment is the song "Stier til Visdoms Krefter" with its haunting piano tune on the main theme, entangled with blast-beating, it's very unlikely it will not mess with your mind. And of course "Iskalde Strommer" with its mesmerizing climax balancing between darkness and illumination. Simply magnificent. The last song (Renheten Og Gjenkomsten) is an obvious effort to create an aggressive climax for this great journey. There are no keyboards in this track and it refers mostly to the early '90s black metal. It doesn't sound unsuitable to the other songs though; it's just another unique piece of a perfect whole. If you want a precise description of Kark, I venture to suggest the following: perfect combination of Ragnarok's "Arising Realm", Thy Grief's "Frozen Tomb of Mankind" and Mork Gryning's "Tusen Ar Har Gatt... ".

In the end Perished offer generously through Kark, the experience of massive, atmospheric and high inspired Norwegian black metal from the '90s and if you're into this type of black metal you'd better bow before its majesty. However, Kark lies buried beneath countless posterior releases and it's waiting patiently to be discovered and like anything that's truly valuable, it was made for the mighty few and not for the masses.

-Phaesforos