SARKOM – Aggravation Of Mind

SARKOM - Aggravation Of Mind


Twilight Vertrieb
Release date: January 10, 2006

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Norway has been in the forefront of Black Metal (BM) ever since the genre’s early days in the late 1980s. Sarkom, hailing from Lørenskog, just outside of Oslo, is the latest in a long, long line of bands continuing this tradition. The band, presenting themselves by just using last names, consists of Unsgaard on vocals, Sagstad on guitars, and Renton who takes care of bass and drums duties. In opposition to many of the new and upcoming BM bands, Sarkom has chosen a sound that is considerably more “old school” than the keyboard-emphasized trend that has been the big thing for the last number of years. The band deserves credit for this decision, as it is considerably harder to create the desired mood and atmosphere without the keyboard element. Dark Funeral and Norway’s own Immortal are examples of other (and very talented) bands who opt for this sound -– the latter of course benefiting from Abbath’s unique vocal style. But now, how does the young trio of Sarkom pull off this difficult task?

Not that well, unfortunately. The album spins and spins without any real anchors to fasten it in the listener’s mind, and the songs are too ambitious –- the band simply is not at the musical level to pull off something like the 12:35 minute closing track “Cryptic Void” yet. There are tendencies –- no doubt in that -– and someday the band may very well be able to come up with some good stuff, but lots of work has to be put in before that day comes.

The quite bombastic opener, “Bloodstains On The Horns,” is okay -– the riffs are decent and the band manages to put in enough variation to make things quite enjoyable. Then it gets worse with the 7:25 minute “Embraced You Shall Be,” which become far too predictable and obvious in both melody, harmonies, and riffing. The band’s use of the trumpet is cool, though. “Alpha – Omega” may be the album’s best track -– it’s got a good groove and is just as “ugly” as the genre demands.

Then things go brutally downhill with “The Chosen One,” which speeds things up considerably. The blast beats are actually quite tight and well-played, but the riffs are way too obvious and Renton’s “screams of agony,” as the booklet reads, are just hilarious. Overall, the vocals are far from convincing. “Aggravation Of Mind’s Syndrome” does little to correct this impression. Note: Unsgaard’s vocals sound a tad better on this track –- the melodies are weak, however, and the groove is far too obvious. “Inside the Memories” is a horror-influenced instrumental, and actually not that bad. Surprisingly, maybe, this 4-minute piece ranks among the best numbers on the album, as it actually manages to create the dark atmospheres the band tries so intensely to channel during the album’s remaining 56 minutes.

“Passion for Suicide” opens with a mid-tempo groove, very similar of several of the band’s compositions, but luckily the track takes a turn with a little melodic riff at 3:36 before moving into a more (and considerably more listenable) brutal section. Again, Renton gets to strut his blasting skills, and again he does it well. He also takes up the trumpet again for this track, and together with Daniel Meyer Grønvold’s saxophone, this gives a sorely needed breath of fresh air, making “Passion for Suicide” Aggravation of Mind‘s number one track. “Cryptic Void” finishes the album off, and despite its length, it’s not as boring as several of the other tracks. As mentioned, it’s far too ambitious to attempt such a compositon at the band’s current level, but shortened down to half the length, the track could actually be quite good. There are some good ideas in there.

That basically sums up the album as a whole too -– too ambitious, lengthy, and, although Renton’s blasting skills have been praised, the band has to work on their musical skills. Of course, old school BM is not about technique in any way, but it’s far easier to come up with creative and entertaining material when at a certain musical level. All in all, then, some good ideas, but lots more work has to be done before Sarkom are able to continue Norway’s Black Metal heritage in a suitable manner.


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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