Saarkoth – 2017 Demo (2017)

This black metal demo is actually quite well-produced, saying something about the time in which we live. I still remember looking in those old Metal Maniacs mags and seeing all the lo-fi demos that were offered back then. I’d be curious as to how many of those bands actually continued, are still going strong and which ones had become famous.

In any case, we have a fair offering of black metal here with powerful scowls and rather catchy melodic sections. I’d additionally add that “Awake In Eternal Sleep” shows real promise for the band in it’s non-black metal excursions, mainly in it’s use of synth and piano. That expands the formula bit beyond the standard tremolo/scowl/blast formula that we’ve heard umpteen thousand times. I know what black metal sounds like. I just want to hear something in the genre that utilizes the formula in a way that makes it stand out. Of course, guitar solos and orchestration to back those solos helps too. There’s quite a bit of notable work here, if I may be honest.

“Beyond in The Horizon” seems to show a little bit of the opposite however, it seems to pull a little bit of focus towards how the band can utilize common core mechanics (and no, I’m not talking about math – I’m referring to common metalcore mechanics) in order to sellout to the mainstream. Maybe there is just a little bit too much of that core influence in the beginning for me. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t deviate from the formula, but perhaps reaching out to genre trends is not the way to go. The programmed drums also have something to be desired as well, but they can prove a bit potent when the guitar and vocal presence is equally powerful. I tend to like the latter half of this piece more than it’s beginning, which shows that it too has potential; but not as much as the previous. Yet I’ll say the same about some of my own songs. There are a few that absolutely kill in the latter sections but take a while to get going. That’s just writing an album in general though. There will always be parts that we like and parts that we don’t.

In any case, Saarkoth seems to be a talented enough act and this demo certainly proves their worth. I think it’s a solid effort, and have heard far worse demos in the black metal spectrum. There’s definitely something here, but don’t quit your dayjobs just yet. It still needs some polish. I recommend a little Pledge and Barkeeper’s Friend.

(2 Tracks, 12:00)

7/10

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