Thank god for black metal, especially when it’s done right. Such is the case of Perished’s Kark, a record originally released in 1998 that has firmly stood the test of time. It sounds just as good, if not better, than it did 19 years ago, and certainly stands head and shoulders amongst its peers, some of whom were directly influenced by this record as well. Perished truly command an epic, black metal sound in say, the vein of Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky, and if that strikes your fancy, then this is the record you’ve been waiting for.
Kark is classical black metal at its finest due in part to the heavy presence of keyboards that create moody interplay between the vocals and music, resulting in a semi-gothic, even symphonic element that runs throughout this record. This interplay creates an atmosphere of angst and gloom that organically elevates the heaviness factor of Kark into a realm of rarified air seldom seen with artists such as Perished. The sound is genuine, the music is natural, and the metal is extreme without seeming forced.
A prime example is track five, “Iskalde Stroemmer,” that embraces the symphonic without straying too far from its blackened roots. But if you’re looking for unbridled, primal heaviness, track eight, “Renheten Og Gjenkomsten,” will satisfy every Celtic Frost urge you’ve ever desired. Perished are at their strongest on Kark when they’re taking chances with song structure and sound and not allowing themselves to be confined by the typical black metal formula of ultra-fast guitars and mandatory blast beats. Instead, the band serves the song and not vice versa.
The deluxe Digipak CD edition of Kark is slated to include a retrospective of the album concept and musical inspiration made by the band as well as three bonus tracks including the previously unreleased song “A Landscape of Flames”, and the two tracks from the Perished 7” EP, “Kald Som Aldri Før” and “Gjennom Skjærende Lys.” The LP Edition due out in October, will come with an insert including the same band retrospective, but will be faithful to the original LP edition. Best news of all – the first 200 copies will come with a bonus 7″ containing the eponymous cult EP.
Overall, Kark is an outstanding record. It’s a living document of the origins of black metal, and extreme metal in general. Get this record. Add it to your collection. Kark is one of the best records this genre has produced in the last thirty years.