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Sarke’s Thomas Bergli: “To build something. It could be destructive, or it can be creative…”

Interview with Thomas Bergli from Sarke
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 04 November 2021, 9:52 PM

Out of the darkness, and into the dark once again. There are various secrets and much to learn in order to truly comprehend the essence of darkness within music, especially Metal music. What is most exciting is that there is never an actual formula to how to do it, it is purely made of thought. The Nordic Sarke has always been a creative and artistic group, trying to find that angle that would render their coldness and atmospheric sense within extreme Metal. Going on yet another different path this time around, with the release of "Allsighr”, there is much to witness and understand. Steinmetal had a chance to talk to Thomas Bergli, aka Sarke, about the new album, the direction of the band and more..

Hello Thomas, once again I am pleased to have you for a conversation for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing?

Thank you for having me on your site again. It's good. Normal days I will say.

Last time we talked, it was right before things worldwide began to change rapidly, and now, after four waves of a wretched pandemic, it appears we have a breather for now, with culture coming back to life. How do you summarize this last period of time of almost two years? What was the effect on Sarke?

Since we don't play so much live, it did not affect us too much. I have been more at home of course and that has resulted in making more music. I already have a lot of new Sarke riffs and ideas in my box.

Continuing your highly interesting musical journey, you are set to release your new album, “Allsighr”, going first time via Soulseller Records. What can you say were your inspirations that engulfed the philosophical nature to the album?

Just so we put that straight. I like to create a feeling with the music. Make people let their thoughts float. Getting pictures in their head when they are listening to the album. To take it towards the darker things. Back to older days and non-existing lands and worlds.

The title of the album refers to a sort of goddess, fertility if I am not mistaken, at least from what the song refers to. Would you say that it set a rather pagan oriented tone to the narrative of the record?

In a way, yes. A goddess that takes the dead or brings the dead back to life into a new world. That means melting down a lifeform and creating something new.

If “Allsighr” is a form of symbolism, what does this symbol entail with it? How do you relate to it on a personal note, meaning does it entangle with your system of beliefs?

It is not about beliefs. It is about creation. That could mean in many ways. To build something. It could be destructive, or it can be creative. It can be on a personal level or it can be to all.

Looking at the artwork, which turned out to be rather cryptic, similar to the music in some cases. It looks like a form of a person, yet twisted, perhaps malformed, a kind of an image that would send chills down people’ spines, while listening to the music. What is your appreciation of this artistic creation? How does the vision behind the artwork fit the musical image of the album?

I think the cover artwork turned out great. Eye catching and mysterious. It is the goddess productive, fruitful. What does she want, what will she create? I think the variety, mysterious and atmospheric music on the album fits the cover very well. It takes time to explore it all.

Allsighr” is compiled of various metaphors, some of them deadly, quite horrific in their own way, and others sending the listener to get lost in his / hers imagination. How do you find this small universe that this record creates? Did you find yourself soul searching once this record was complete?

I try to make it all fit together. With both lyrics, music and artwork. To get to the darker side. It's metal music and it's supposed to be heavy, cold and dark. That's why it's good to get away from the normal and real life we live every day. You are supposed to let your mind float away into a different place.

Your previous record, “Gastwerso”, had me quite impressed with its widespread vision. With the emergence of “Allsighr”, it is a form of continuance, yet from where I am standing it felt both straightforward and also darkly perplexing at the same time. Sounds rather insane in a way. Would you say that it is a slightly different turn within Sarke’s music on this record?

It is a conscious choice to have this album more straightforward music vise. It is a more direct album. But still we have kept the atmospheric and the variation. I will not say it is a different turn for Sarke. on this album, yes. But the next album will be different again. Maybe even more than ever.

One of the key factors that maintained your usual sense towards the veil of darkness was emphasised on this album in particular, the keyboards. While the guitar and bass rhythms chug, the keyboards took over with its wonderful, and mysterious, haze. How do you find the influence of the keyboards on the record overall? Does it come as a perception change in regards to the role of the keyboards within your music?

The keyboards really make a difference on the album. Creates a lot of mood and atmosphere. It also combines the beautines in the darkness. Anders is very good on the keyboard and contributes a lot in the songs with his playing and creativity.

If there is one thing that I had to adjust is the semi-singing Nocturno Culto, which was one of few times that a vocalist that isn’t generally singing, is as if a storyteller, portraying mesmerizing tales, with possible messages of power. How do you find Nocturno Culto’s impact on “Allsighr”?

Nocturno follows the feel of the album. I think his vocals blend in well with the music. His approach can also change on the next album. There it might be more screaming again. This time I involved Steinar and Anders earlier in the process than before.

How did the becoming of “Allsighr”, meaning the songwriting process and the recording stages, help your development as a songwriter? Would you say that the record taught you a few things here and there?

Of course each album recording teaches me something. Not how to record things maybe, but ideas and how to develop a song with all instruments. This time I involved Steinar and Anders earlier in the process than before. Usually the process is quite the same each time.

Since we are still living in an era of the pandemic, vaccinations or not, were there any complications while “Allsighr” was in the works? Any challenges that you faces as the record was ongoing?

Yes, big time actually. We had booked a studio in Sweden for recording. We had to cancel that a few months before. Find a new recording studio in Norway. We chose Toproom Studios for recording. Then we mixed the album at H-10. Luckily it all worked out well in the end.

Last year you were able to recruit the power drummer, Cato Bekkevold, who in one of his many exploits of the past, for 15 years served as Enslaved’s skinman. Now that is quite an upgrade for Sarke. How do you find Bekkevold’s impact on the rhythm section of the record?

I thought he is the kind of drummer that would fit this album well. More direct forward machinery. I think he did a great job. We have had good drummers before also, so it's more what fits the music on the album. I have known him for a long time, so nice to finally work together.

I believe that one of the toughest aspects of the constant connection between lyrics and music, is to find that cohesion. How do you think that it came to pass on “Allsighr”?

For me that works well together. I work of course simultaneously with both music and lyrics. I try to combine the atmosphere in both.

The heavier than thou "Funeral Fire" did feel like a mystical kind of burial ritual. It sounded to me like a form of Slayer but with a strong pitch of darkness. Whether it's the riffs, grooves and keyboards of course, it is the mighty force of the record. What can you tell in regards to how this song was created? What was your initial vision prior to its creation?

One of the more powerful tracks on the album. Cool riffing. Maybe a mix between Slayer and Mercyful fate. Had a good feeling with that track since the early beginning. We tried out the riffs at rehearsal with different drum parts and keyboard parts. Find out what works well. The song is about fire, persecution, and execution.

Certainly one of the album’s prime spiritual tunes, which takes on the psychedelic nature of the band forward, is “Glacial Casket”. This kind of misty fog isn’t that common, and I believe that the atmosphere that it creates is uncanny, quite divine in a twisted way. What is your appreciation of this track’s outcome?

This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Cold and atmospheric. A nordic song. Icy and depressive. It is about the cold and deadly expedition to the north pole. I think it turned out great in the studio. With the vocal and keys and everything.

I can assume that you didn’t have much opportunity to support the previous record live, given the fact that there was no live scene. Would you rectify that and go for a double support, also for “Allsighr”?

That's true. No gigs from that album. Let's hope it will be better next year. Nothing planned yet, but things can happen.

Thomas, thank you again for taking the time for this conversation. Clearly you are a source of inspiration and I believe that the Metal scene is fortunate to have a new record from Sarke. All the best

Thank you for your support.



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