Album Review: Karg – Traktat (AOP Records)

AOP Records proudly presents “Traktat” – the new full-length album of Austria’s Karg and follow-up to 2018’s highly acclaimed “Dornenvögel”!

Karg was founded back in the summer of 2006 as a one-man project by Harakiri For the Sky vocalist J.J., offering a furious and original mixture of Atmospheric Black Metal, Post Rock, Grunge, Shoegaze and Post Punk. The influences from other genres than Black Metal evolved more and more within the last few years but were there in abridged form since day one.

Lyrically Karg always was about the more melancholic side of life, such as broken relationships, lost love, estrangement, drug abuse, loss or suicide thoughts and depression. In contrast to many other bands Karg’s lyrics are as equal important than its music is. Mainman J.J. comments on the new album:

When I began writing “Traktat“ I was about to explode. Things started falling apart at the very beginning of the year, what left me distracted and anxious till the end of summer. And when doctors tell you that a depressive episode like this will last around or more than six months, without a treatment, then I’ve to agree with them, they are totally right. This, and the circumstance, that I travelled quite a lot this year, trying to run away from a distemper I couldn’t control anymore, is what makes “Traktat” a very personal album, musically as lyrically. That’s also the reason I wrote much of it on the road. I wouldn’t say that the previous KARG releases were less personal, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Also, it’s the last part of some kind of trilogy, which started with “Weltenasche” nearly four years ago and continued with “Dornenvögel” in summer of 2018. To me “Traktat” is some sort of manic depression, which has its ups and downs, loud and quiet at the same time and with a tailspin like every second minute. Quite a lot to bear, and full of emotions I desperately had to get rid of, as I was exploding anyway.

This absolutely humongous effort from Karg might only have eight tracks but it comes in at around 75 minutes. That’s well over an hour of deeply moving and emotionally wrought music. Where a unit of atmospheric black metal, post, shoegaze and more comes together to expel something that is quite wonderful to hear.

The personal nature of this record is clear to hear. Not just within the pained, stretched howls and screams of the vocals but with the rawness of the music. If the aim was to make us experience just a little bit of what Karg was feeling at the time of writing, then that is well and truly accomplished.

It’s a down-beat and somewhat depressing listen but it’s not without its highs, layered amongst the lows. Taking shape in uplifting melodies, intense flashes of furious heaviness and an all round constant drive forward. That latter one is arguably the most important as this kind of music has a habit of getting lost in itself and enjoying the smell of its own farts too much. Not here with Karg, well, maybe not as much. Instead most lulls seem there just to bridge a track and continue pushing it and us onwards towards the end.

Its not about wanting it to be over, it’s about wanting it to have a logical and well thought out conclusion. Which is exactly what Traktat has. Of course, the journey is just as, if not more important and this journey is one that starts off slow but evolves into something truly special.

Chances are, like me, there will be a moment in a track that just stops you dead. A moment that focuses the mind and removes any lethargy. Suddenly, thanks to that moment you’ll find yourself all in and in awe of what is being experienced here.

For it was on the latter part of Jahr ohne Sommer. After a brutalising series of hammer blows with desperate heaviness, the melody takes over and we get a stunning couple of minutes built around it.

Hilariously, that’s only the second track in. There are another 6 to go. Does it get better then that? Well, no not quite but it’s a matter of splitting hairs. Do you prefer the stunning wander through the muted colours of the post heaviness that is Stolperkenotaphe? Or maybe the unifying assault that comes from Abgrunddialektik is an attractive proposition?

Regardless, everyone will agree that Traktat is one of the most emotional albums heard this year if not one of the best.

Karg – Traktat Full Track Listing:

1. Irgendjemand wartet immer
2. Jahr ohne Sommer
3. Stolperkenotaphe
4. Alaska
5. Abgrunddialektik
6. Alles was wir geben mussten
7. Grabcholerik
8. Tod, wo bleibt dein Frieden?


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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Karg - Traktat (AOP Records)
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