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Karg - Traktat

by Mark Machlay at 21 January 2020, 1:19 AM

For the better part of the last decade, Austrian duo Harakiri For The Sky have been making crushing black metal with lyrical content ranging from beauty and longing to crushing sadness. KARG was a creation of half of this duo, one Michael V. Wahntraum or J.J. , existing before the aforementioned group. KARG;s forthcoming album called “Traktak” (German for “Treatise”) is everything Harakiri For The Sky is and more. It starts with “Atmospheric” Black Metal and blends elements of Post Rock, Shoegaze, and more into a coherent mix that is clearly something wholly original.

This albums marks a bit of an ending of a trilogy. It started with 2016’s “Weltenasche” continuing with 2018’s “Dorgenvogel” and wrapping up with “Traktak”, releasing on February 7, 2020. KARG's music has nearly always been about the melancholic side of life such as loss, suicidal thoughts and depression. J.J. even comments that, “when I began writing “Traktak”, I was about to explode…I traveled quite a lot this year, trying to run away from my distemper I couldn’t control anymore.” These emotions seem to boil over and take the listener on quite a ride through several twists and turns.

“Alaska” is the centerpiece of the album and offers arguably the most varied track on the album. The song as well as the accompanying video the band released conveys the wintry, snowy mountains (most likely Austria’s Tennen Mountains, of which all of the album is spoken in the dialect that is found there). Until about 3 minutes, the track is typically aggressive, beginning with a scream not quite blackened enough to be labeled black metal. It then begins quiets down to an introspective, vast chasm where the guitars glisten and shine, creating a feeling a depth at first. Then distorted guitars are slowly layered back in giving the feeling of dropping down a hole, alone, isolated and buried alive. There are periods of reprieve allowing the drums and echoing guitars to fill the space alone while a chugging riff is played at a distance before becoming crushing with black metal screams. The track ends on held notes with an almost optimistic timbre.

With albums that feature one creator with only session musicians to fill in the instrumental gaps, there is a risk that production can suffer due to no outside guidance. Thankfully, the mix is huge and is open to the experimentation with many layers creating an esoteric and ethereal mood. All elements are crystal clear and each in their own sonic space. One can almost taste the cold, majestic and isolated mountains.

Unfortunately, there is little variety among the tracks. If you were asked at which point in the album you were, you may be hard pressed to offer a correct response. With all tracks seeming to blend together, it creates a mosaic of sound that is undeniably hypnotizing at times. Considering the extended album length it may be intended. It is unclear if this is the intention but it could be considered a positive if the music has a disorienting effect resulting in time seeming to pass without effort and surprisingly finding yourself at the end of the album as the music washed over you like a river.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 9

3 Star Rating

1. Irgendjemand wartet immer
2. Jahr ohne Sommer
3. Stolperkenotaphe
4. Alaska
5. Abgrunddialektik
6. Alles was wir geben mussten
7. Grabcholerik
9. Tod, wo bleibt dein Frieden?
9. Nichts als Schatten (Bonus Track // Bonnie Prince Billy Cover)
J.J. - Vocals, Lyrics, All Music and Instruments
Paul Färber – Drums
Record Label: AOP Records


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Edited 28 September 2020

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