End days… Fimbulvetr… the cold, darkness of three consecutive winters; the sun and moon torn from the sky; the dead rising from their graves and poison filling the air – all-encompassing despair! That’s what comes to mind when you pick up Sarkom‘s Doomsday Elite, well that and cardio; double-tap; limber up and it’s a marathon not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint, then sprint already! But I digress, Norwegian based Sarkom play the kind of black metal that’s packed with jagged, razor sharp blast-beats, inflicting a bite as deep and destructive as say Gravdal, Endezzma or Nidingr.
On Doomsday Elite, Sarkom‘s third studio release, they intimate that they’ve surpassed Aggravation of Mind and Bestial Supremacy and to some extent their brothers in arms, transcending musical genres and bringing home an album that’s experimental and seething with morose solicitude. That’s a hefty statement and enough to get this angry metal reviewer interested!
Doomsday Elite kicks off with a bang! The pace is around 100 mph on the offset and it roars and gallops along at this tempo for pretty much the duration of the album. The title and opening track introduces you to the eroding vocal diverseness of frontman (and founder) Erik Unsgaard, whom you may remember delivered So Much for Nothing‘s debut album Livsgnist back in 2012. Tracks like “I Utakt Med Gud,” “No Loose Ends,” “Predators In Disguise,” “Solemn Disorder Till Human Extinction” (bringing to mind moments of early Illnath) and last but by no means least “Stigma” mesh Erik’s clean, almost monotonal, narration with gruff, throaty screams that burrow into your chest and squeeze the life out of you. But more-so, they introduce you to Erik’s near werewolf-ish growl that indeed raises Sarkom head and shoulders above the pack.
Sagstad and Strönen keep things interesting with a distinctly Urgehal flavor to their guitar work. They switch between thrashy, destructive riffs and solos as thick, black and sticky as molasses in “I Utakt Med Gud,” to mere moments later delivering something akin to a drawn out demonic shrieks in “No Loose Ends.” When you start to feel familiarity set in, they shape-shift and tear at you with the disorientating beast, “Predators In Disguise.” Not only does the track have some great guitar, but the chemistry between these guitarists and Urgehal’s Uruz, providing the machine-like drum-work, it’s well… something else! Picturing Uruz tear into his kit, with such precision and force in “I Utakt Med Gud” and “No Loose Ends” has me waiting with bated breath for a video release for Doomsday Elite.
Mastering of Doomsday Elite was carried out by none other than Tom Kvålsvoll (Strype Audio) whose worked with the likes of 1349, Borknagar, Koldbrann, Magister Templi, and NunFuckRitual to name a few of my favorites. His artistry keeps the mix plenty modern, guaranteeing that you have access to each and every stream of thought and theatric that’s gone into the album while still keeping it brutal enough to strip the flesh from your bones.
Doomsday Elite is a demanding listen, with guest performances by the likes of Psy Coma (The Kovenant), Haan (Svarttjern), Nachtgarm (Negator), Thrawn and V. Larsen, there’s so much happening that by the time you hit “Solemn Disorder Till Human Extinction” and “Cosmic Intellect” my attention waned slightly, remedied by the grandiose closing track “Stigma.” While neither of these tracks are out of place or over long in any way, they have less in them that holds my attention. Doomsday Elite succeeds in combining Sarkom‘s base sound with that of So Much for Nothing‘s Livsgnist, fueled along by a healthy dose of pure adrenalin, this is definitely Sarkom‘s best work yet!