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King of Asgard - Svartrviðr Award winner

King of Asgard
Svartrviðr
by Erika Kuenstler at 07 June 2021, 1:12 PM

Four years after the release of their masterpiece Taudr, KING OF ASGARD are back with their fifth full-length album, Svartrviðr, released through German label Trollmusic this May. And with this album, we are reminded of what has always set this band apart: the darker yet majestic tones their music takes, along with their combination of different styles. And Svartrviðr is no exception, with KING OF ASGARD’s music taking this darkness to a whole new level.

Starting off the album we have “Frôðr” in which a fuzzy and lugubrious melody slowly begins to entwine around you, gradually building up into a swirling guitar melody backed by mid-paced drums. With the stage thus set, KING OF ASGARD kick in with their unique Viking/Black/Death style. “Frôðr” is a powerful start to the album, with darker moments mixing with cleaner melodies. “Rifna”, on the other hand, takes the pace down a notch, creating a majestic song about the end of days. Following this, “Hæimr” is an utter barrage of a song, with war-horns calling you into the midst of the leviathan soundscapes.  “Kvikr” gives us few moments of respite before suddenly being thrown back into the tumultuous, pounding fray. This song ebbs and flows perfectly, with darker Black Metal melodies intertwining with faster, hard-hitting unbridled Melodic Death sections. At the apex of the album, we find “Ammobiærg”. Here, the chanted intro combined with the crawling pace gives the song a foreboding feeling, before launching you into a soaring, ritualistic song which spirals from one peak to the next.  In contrast to this, the title-track of the album, “Svartrviðr”, oozes spell-biding power with every beat of the drum and with each hypnotising riff, its sprawling and atmospheric soundscapes lamenting times long since passed. In the penultimate spot is “Harmdauðr”, in which the acoustic guitar intro takes on an almost dreamy sound, lulling us into a reminiscing nostalgia. This is somewhat marred by the rather abrupt ending of this song. Closing off the album we have the instrumental “FæigR”, a beautiful and haunting melody, using sound effects to create a poignant end to the album, conjuring images of a misty battlefield, where well-sated crows are all that remain.

One thing that KING OF ASGARD have mastered over the years is building up enthralling melodies using repetition and suspense. And with the majority of the songs on Svartrviðr ranging between 5 and 9 minutes, KING OF ASGARD put this time to good use, creating layers of sound which slowly crescendo. But therein lies the weakness of this album: while repetition can be used to build up to something greater, the consistent use of this in each song makes the album somewhat predictable and long-winded. This is further compounded by low to mid tempos being consecutively used throughout the album. They do try to break things up with changes in tempo and smoother interludes, although this is still not entirely enough to keep the album fresh throughout. However, this small complaint is quickly overlooked. The double vocals delivered by Karl and Jonas give the album that extra bit of power, and this combined with the maelstrom of melodies make Svartrviðr a truly pummelling album. The bass is also allowed to shine through the mix, giving the swirling guitars some grounding, whilst the drums form the solid backbone of the album, coalescing all the different parts together. Added to this is the production by Devo (ex-MARDUK), giving the album that extra layer of darkness.

Overall, Svartrviðr lives up to its name, showing us a murkier side of KING OF ASGARD. If you like your music with the frosty, biting sagas of the ancient North, a dash of pounding ferocity, and a good dollop of ensnaring darkness, then Svartrviðr is definitely the album for you!

Song-writing: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Frôðr
2. Rifna
3. Hæimr
4. Kvikr
5. Ammobiærg
6. Svartrviðr
7. Harmdauðr
8. FæigR   
Lineup:
Karl Beckmann - Vocals, Guitars
Jonas Albrektsson - Bass, Vocals
Mathias Westman - Drums
Ted Sjulmark - Guitars
Record Label: Trollmusic
     


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Edited 16 June 2021
 

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