Released: 2005, Edgerunner Music
I haven’t heard much new black metal from Norway, aside from 1349 who are essentially around as a drum clinic for me. So to hear a band like Slagmark who are from Norway, play black metal, and actually do it well is a bit of a surprise as I was under the impression that black metal in Norway died quite a few years ago.
Slagmark have been slugging it out for quite a few years by now, forming back in 1998. Seven years is actually quite a long time in this day and age, when most bands seem to be signed to some label within a couple years. Maybe this is something that has helped the band, giving them time to hone and perfect their music, unlike many others who have been together a couple years and the best they have to show for their effort is a mediocre at best debut album.
Slagmark’s style is aggressive Norwegian black metal, not unlike a mid period Immortal. The thing that sets Slagmark apart from most of the bigger new school black metal bands is that blastbeats aren’t used as a means for extremity, they are used to accent riffs and add to the music, not to BE the music. The band is rather riff heavy compared to most as they create memorable guitar sections that don’t rely on being “extreme” and they don’t rely on creating a cold atmosphere, they’re just good, period. The band also has no qualms about throwing in the odd thrash riff among the tremolo picking.
In “Aeon of Horus” ERADICATION starts off with a bang. Blast beats kick off the song but the main thing to notice is that melodic riff that churns and swirls around before pausing right in the middle. Avsky’s rough, raspy vocals follow that melody initially before moving into a chunky thrash riff in no time. Soon the song changes again and Avsky is left behind, the band’s music shifting and changing again into a marching melodic riff. Quickly though Avsky catches up before the band heads back into the opening riff. With this opening track one insantly sees that Slagmark have made a point to keep shifting riffs, cycling through things a limited number of times, making sure riffs and melodies don’t overstay their welcome. Which is amazing as every riff and melody is strong and the amount of ideas on the album could probably equal a two separate albums for most other bands. Epic, Viking-styled riffing opens, and is the central focal point for, “Erase Christianity”. The song creates a feeling of aggression and ultimate triumph through its riffs, and especially its main riff which works together with manic drumming laid underneath.
A very upbeat, and almost punk sounding to these ears, riff opens “The Glacers Battles”. The song uses a slightly less aggressive and manic style, with riffs that are a bit simpler and more melodic. The riff/melody coming in at the one minute mark is majestic in scope and powerful in feel before hitting a chunky chugging riff at the 1:50 that just as effectively gives off the same feeling as the prior melody. The final two tracks on the album, “Total War (Pt. 1)” and “Total War (Pt. 2)” work together in a World War II theme. “Total War (Pt.1)” is a sound bite from the 1940’s speaking of dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. In “Total War (Pt. 2)” Slagmark end the album with a bang. Chaotic aggression reigns supreme throughout the song with soundclips of bombs dropping in the background and a main riff that lends itself to thrash metal.
Slagmark create memorable riff heavy black metal that’s a sure win with myself and I’m sure that with the proper exposure the band could gain a rather big audience. With only one album to their credit, Slagmark have made at least one fan…