Album Review: …To North by King of Asgard

The call of the war horn beckons the oncoming storm as the Vikings raise their weapons and dash to the shores unleashing a relentless assault on their foes.  Blood, sweat, viscera glaze the warriors and the battle ground as the tempest of steel rages on.  Within the course of only an hour the rush of conflict comes to a halt, the living lower their weapons and walk away with their sanguine drenched bounty giving thanks to Odin.

Sounds like I just described a scene from an Amon Amarth album, right?  Well, nope, that is the imagery that passes through my heads when I listen to the sophomore album, …To North, by Swedish melo-death metal band King of Asgard (which features members of Mithotyn and Falconer).  Yes, the 2 bands share very much in common ranging from Norse mythology to back-breaking riffs and rhythms, but when all is said and done the bands stand apart from each other both delivering different experiences.  Amon Amarth delivers more of a pure melo-deth experience, while King of Asgard delve into some progressive tinged black metal mixed with their melo-deth style.  Both bands are monumental experiences in ‘Viking Metal’ with neither outclassing the other.  And now that I’ve taken care of the gorilla in the room, let’s talk about …To North some more.

Wasting no time the album starts off with an intro track which culls in the warlike mood as the call of a war horn follows the slow strikes of the guitars, bass, and drums and the sound of a marching army.  The short intro flows seamlessly into …To North‘s first track proper and lead single “The Nine Worlds Burn” as blistering tremolo picked guitars pick up after a bout of fist pumping riffs start this massive song off.  Vocalist Karl Beckman blazes into the cacophony of glorious metal with his unique voice which takes the best of both the black and death metal singing styles and makes some truly shattering sounds with his lungs adding a huge wave of intensity to the already fervent music.  The real zinger on this pace-setting opening track is when it takes an unexpected turn and features a bout of ethereal female vocals to give the song a nice heroic mood.  With the bar set so high by “The Nine Worlds Burn” it was great to hear that the next tune “The Dispossessed” follows suit adding in some killer melodic leads to the formula.

“Gap Of Ginnungs” changes the pace up a bit slowing things down to a crushing mid pace of riffs and leads as the rhythm section grooves along.  A huge sing-a-long chorus greets the boot-stomping rhythms accentuating the heroic musical theme King of Asgard has been establishing and a huge guitar solo drives that point home.  “Bound To Reunite” picks the tempo back up and delivers a whirlwind of hook-laden riffs, leads, rhythms, and vocal lines that will stick in your memory long after the final track ends. “Nordvegr” continues down the path blazed by its former, and after a great doom metal style intro “Up On the Mountain” does the same.  “Plague – Ridden Rebirth” is an interesting track with pulsing rhythm guitars and blast beats meet thick and viscid doom metal riffing and noble soloing.  “Harvest (The End)” boasts some great lead guitar work that came off sounding like an evil version of André Olbrich’s style in Blind Guardian and male choral vocals really stand out as excellent in this tune as they bellow over bouts of black metal tremolo picking again, really building on the heroic atmosphere of the record.  To close the record off on a high note the sounds of melancholic piano notes ring in the instrumental finale “…To North”.  As the title suggests it does both sum up the album and create an atmosphere of the end of the beginning of an epic journey to the North.

Between rock solid songwriting, great musicianship between Karl Beckman (Guitar/Vocals), Jonas Albrektsson (Bass), Lars G Tängmark (Guitar), and Karsten Larsson (Drums), and excellent sounding mixing, mastering, and all that other production stuff adding …To North to your Viking metal collection is a must.  If you dig on bands like Amon Amarth, Isengard (KoA covers “Vinterskugge” as a bonus track for those who purchase the ltd. edition digipack. Worth it, awesome cover), Einherjer, or later Bathory you need to drop what you’re doing this second and get this immediately, don’t let the Amon Amarth rip-off buzz that’s spreading around the internet throw you off, it’s just not true.  Since this record found its way into my CD collection it’s been getting daily spins and I foresee many, many more in the future.  Enjoy!!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

Release Date:  NA: 31 July, 2012 / EU: 27 July, 2012

Record Label:  Metal Blade Records

Nationality:  Sweden

 

 

 

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About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on August 22, 2012, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think when you throw in the world Asgard, people are going to make certain assumptions. This band doesn’t sound much like Amon Amarth at all. They have a great thing going and I hope they stay around for a while.

    The beginning of this song is so ominous…or I should say the intro. i bet this song gets one hell of a pit going. Great review, I have been spinning this album a lot lately myself…a contender for the end of year list; we’ll see!

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