Saarkoth are no strangers to GBHBL. After coming our way in September of 2017 with their 2-track demo, we were blown away by the atmospheric black metal band. You can read our review of the demo here. After that we watched their musical growth with interest and got to know more about them through interviews (you can read an early written one here and listen to a more recent Skype one below).
The young British band announced that they would be releasing their debut album, Jera on September 21st 2018 via MSH Music Group. Following that up with the first single from that album, The Wanderer which you can read a review of here.
For those who don’t know Saarkoth are an atmospheric black metal band formed by Ellis Arnott and Lewis Baker in 2016. Inspired by black metal legends such as Winterfylleth, Agalloch, Burzum and Emperor – they create a sound which varies from that of a gentle atmosphere to lose yourself in to crushing black metal intensity. Their current line-up consists of: Ellis Arnott – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Lewis Baker – Lead Guitar and Asa Jones – Bass, Vocals.
Jera, is a nine song release including polished version of the two tracks from the demo and two instrumentals.
It’s one such instrumental that opens Jera before a song I’m very familiar with kicks in. Beyond the Horizon was originally on the demo but here it’s been cleaned up and given a new lease on life. The drumming is more noticeable, the riffs stand out and the vocals have a much sharper edge to them. It’s an incredible track, a real showcase of power from the young black metallers that has all the elements (brutal heaviness with gorgeous melodies) that make them such a great listen.
Keeping things rooted in the old-school of black metal, A Land Divided is a raw and angry sounding piece of darkness that drops away into soft and elegant melody before coming back like a demonic force for a ritualistic final minute.
It’s followed by another new track in Dreams of Emerald. Here the gargling of the vocals play off the filthy and slower metal rhythm adding an extra depth of evil heaviness. Keeping with the Saarkoth formula, we get an atmospheric drop in pressure just over the 3 and a half minute mark but it’s less about melody and more about adding some more ‘oomph’ overall. The drums crash, the guitars wail and the vocals howl until the final seconds ebb away.
Another short instrumental (A Wound in the World) comes before the second of the two demo tracks, Awake in Eternal Sleep arrives. Again, an excellent track has fresh life breathed into it and there is a strong case for this being the standout track on the album. The bass reverberates around the skull during an epic melodic segment.
Following that is no easy task so smartly Saarkoth makes their next two tracks raging torrents of heaviness. At the End of the River and the previously released single, The Wanderer see the band driving their stake into metal’s black heart.
All good things must come to and end and it’s the title track that closes the album out. The longest track on the album, the movie score like start gets the emotions going as it conjures up images of natural beauty and freedom. It flows wonderfully into Saarkoth’s signature style of bleak heaviness while retaining the gorgeous rhythm that begun it. An incredible song to close out an incredible debut album.
Saarkoth have it. They are leading the pack for the next wave of black metal bands. Not just in the UK but the world.
Saarkoth – Jera Full Track Listing:
1. The Coming of the Cold
2. Beyond the Horizon
3. A Land Divided
4. Dreams of Emerald
5. A Wound in the World
6. Awake in Eternal Sleep
7. At the End of the River
8. The Wanderer
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You can order the album now over on the MSH Music Group website and earlier Saarkoth releases via their Bandcamp. Find out more and keep up to date with Saarkoth news by liking their Facebook Page here.
Saarkoth - Jera (MSH Music Group)
The Final Score - 9/10