Initially starting out life in 2008 as a solo project/means to blow off some creative steam for Khold and Tulus musician Thomas ‘Sarke’ Bergli, the experiment quickly mutated into a different kind of monster entirely. Nowadays more of a ‘traditional’ group, Sarke’s line-up features a cast of seasoned players – including members past and present of Darkthrone, Satyricon, Autopulver and Spiral Architect – and their back catalogue is as formidable as their combined pedigree suggests. Aiming to strike in the wake of the critical success of 2016’s Bogefod, the Norwegian genre-straddlers have unleashed their fifth effort, Viige Urh. Not an official concept album as such, the opus does share a common theme of “time passed” (the LP’s name loosely translates as ‘A time that’s already lived and cannot be changed’) and draws upon Norse mythology and history throughout its eight tracks. Opening robustly with the title track, a powerful Mercyful Fateminded lead riff serves as a thrilling introduction to the record and the irregular rhythms and flashes of symphonic metal add to the excitement. While most of the material doesn’t break the five-minute mark, Sarkedo pack plenty of ideas into the black-, doom-, thrash- and trad-flavoured proceedings and they’re not afraid to take a risk (particularly on SOFTWAREmark” gingersoftwareuiphraseguid=“4c694eea-602c-4ac5-844e-40b770de3f50” id=“d182b368-5313-41a3-8459-af8c727b2104”>Upir, which mashes up extreme metal with Deep Purple). SOFTWAREmark” gingersoftwareuiphraseguid=“bf6710be-d636-47c8-a0fa-8689bf993a7f” id=“9b043598-b6d9-4cc9-9b8b-6fcdad5e5a0a”>Jutul is a big moment on the record and sees them expand their sound with the help of guest vocalist (and actress) Lena Fløitmoen. Starting out as an eerie folk song, the track takes you on a trip through icy wastelands and ancient burial grounds with mournful riffs and strings guiding the way. Knifehall is another highlight and is a bullish, short, sharp, shock to the system that draws heavily on Motörhead for inspiration. Vocalist Nocturno Culto swaps his trademark frost-tinged croak for a (slightly) warmer, whiskey-soaked bellow that Lemmy Kilmister would be proud of and the neck-bothering number already sounds like a killer pit anthem.