Skurk – Blodbragd (Taste Of Blood)

Skurk originate in Akureyri, North Iceland. Founded in 1990, with multiple influences. They toured Iceland, bought a studio, recorded an unreleased album, split and partially re-formed in 2011. They then played a comeback gig in their hometown of Akureyri, alongside Icelandic metal titans Skalmoid. More gigs and an EP (Final Gift), followed, which was well received and reviewed and a song was bought and used in the Fusl movie soundtrack. Since reforming, Skurk have worked on a multitude of projects, including playing self promoted gigs, a gig with Icelandic rock god Eurikur Hauksson, playing at Eistnaflug Metal Fest and recording two albums.

The new album will be launched early March. It includes 10 tracks of thrash, with unusual tangents and influences. Taste of Blood is a collaborative effort between the band and the local music school, blending metal and classical sounds, led by Daniel Porsteinsson. The album narrates a story of a girl called Lady Snow, (Mjoll), as seen by a man whose presence eventually dramatically affected her destiny. It was an arduous creative and recording process, incorporating various guest vocalists, taking place in several locations and the album was mastered in studio Fossland, in Sweden.

Eymd – Gorgeous acoustic riff intro, filled with pathos and melancholia, yet still catchy, in its own way. Really gritty, haunting vocals, packed with feeling. Carrying a note of deep sentiment throughout, it’s a truly beautiful track, with clear echoes of the closing riff of Extreme’s ‘Song For Love’, at the end.

Refsing – Booming intro, of full on metal proportions. A real drum fest, with a sudden, intense change, to growly, thrashy vocals, proving plausibility, in varied strands of thrash and its many versatile influences. You’ll hear a very Celtic sounding mid-section in there, with clear fantasy metal visuals and even a Slayer-esque riff or two. That’ll do nicely. Finishing on a final cymbal hit, this should please the ears of any fan of combined metal genres, such as folk, Celtic, thrash, speed and power.

Mjall – Bang! That’s the only way to describe that intro. Now, we have power vocals, a very slight Ramstein-esque sound, tasty speed riffs and drum rolls to match. It’s one of those car chase visuals of which I’m so fond, an anthemic edge, in places and a warm, yet wintry feel. This manages to combine so much, in one track and does so with exceptional expertise. The closest I’ve heard yet to Farseer’s ‘Chthonic Visions’. Immense.

Aflausn – Wow, now that’s unexpected and very magical. A string orchestra intro, which to some, will cause your mind to explode with images, just adding to its power. Showing, again, their incredible versatility, it soon segues, so smoothly, you wouldn’t think it possible, into a vividly thrashy section, fizzing with excitement and passion. Aha! Spot the ‘Alexander The Great’ riff in there). Maiden fans, rejoice. Oh just feel those drum hits, to the very core of your being). This just works, on every possible level.

Salmyrkvi – Blasting straight into life, with unhesitant, unrepentant, uplifting metal). A great, laid-back, yet powered up approach to this. Very sexy heavy drum fills, it’ll rock you to death. Intelligent, flavoursome construction, just delighting in the metal vibe. That’s the business.

Feigur – Ooh , ominously creeping, low toned intro, with plenty of bass effect, laced through it. There’s the Rammstein effect back again, on the vocals. Hammering it home on the drums and sliding, purposefully, into Sabbath-esque doom emphasis. Darkening the feel, yet lifting it up, with such light riff touches, till it hits the apex of power scream riffage. Taking it back to the darkness of the basement floor again, this just screams professional versatility.

Rokkvar – Another banging drum and riff intro, with a noticeably emo feel, soon launching into a power section, alternating between that and growly sounds, riff solos and everything in between. Sudden end to this one, but just abundantly powerful.

Vitjun – Smooth riff intro, playing a catchily melodic rhythm, with an ethereal female vocal, not unlike a songbird quality. Surrounding the female vocals, with robotic male vocals, on a mission, visually evocative of Dalek destruction. All enfolded in a tightly wrapped encroaching drum section, with menacing intent. That beautiful angelic sounding female vocal follows, with a solo, so haunting and it’s all eventually finished with an astoundingly strong drum section, accompanied by the ethereal vocals. Just magically visual and mysterious.

Endir – There’s a banging metal intro, if ever I heard one! No arguing with this one. Proper thrash vocals, directing the show, supported by equally thrashy riffs and drums. Great fast-pace. Fabulously violent drum assault. Slight growly section, but it’s thrash all the way here. All the way to the abrupt ending, just as I was getting into it. If only it was longer.

Blodbragd – Opening up the title track, by cleverly returning to the beginning, with another string section. It’s come full circle. The mood’s slightly deflated by the lowered tone, before gradually widening the circle and giving way to a fittingly aggressive thrash finale. Picking up the pace, to speed metal tempo, incorporating flashes of Slayer-esque riffs and once more, harmonising perfectly, with the string section, creating the most amazingly vibrant sound. Eventually, slowing the rhythm back down again, before following it up, with one of the most classic riffs you’ll ever hear, with perfect closing timing. So much variation in one track and all of it carried off with such precision. This is one masterpiece of a track. You just never know where they’re gonna go next with it, which is where it’s magic and mystery lies. Performing a thunder and lightning storm of sound combos, it reaches a point of being beyond description. Beautifully closed, with a string section, of uplifting tones, accompanied, in perfect harmony, by ‘Tallica-esque riffs, echoing ‘Seek And Destroy’, from the Kill ‘Em All era. Breathtaking.

Overall – An absolute masterpiece of studied and practised accomplishment. One of those rare gems, filled with so much magic and mystery and so visually evocative, it almost speaks its own language of fantastical soundscapes and vision quests. Versatile to an awe-inspiring level. Intelligently, creatively constructed and composed. Performed with the utmost skill and professionalism. Imaginative synthesis, at its best. A truly magnificent album.

9/10 *********

For fans of Farseer, Iron Maiden, Testament, Slayer, Rammstein, Black Sabbath, Die No More, Yngwie Malmsteen, Metallica and WASP.

http://www.metal-archives.com/

Available on Inconsistency Records

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