Seeking to ravage all they survey, King of Asgard deliver another ode to their Scandinavian heritage with their punishing third album, Karg. Translated from their native Swedish as "barren," it's difficult to imagine a more fitting title. With its brooding, blackened Viking metal sound and slower pace, the album doesn't so much evoke the thrill of battle as it does the devastation of its aftermath, painting a portrait of destruction with every ominous guitar riff and throat-shredding scream. Drawing upon dark arts such as black metal and doom, King of Asgard weave together an all-enveloping shroud of darkness and despair that surrounds the listener and instills them with an icy dread. At first, it's easy to allow Karg's chilling bleakness to overtake you, but as the album marauds on and the band's folk roots become more apparent, the album's grooves allow you to take on the role of pillager rather than pillaged. By the time the record arrives at its midpoint with the sprawling "Omma," it's hard not to be fully immersed in immemorial brutality. Aiding in this is King of Asgard's demeanor, which remains deadly serious throughout the album as it avoids the jovial sounds and traditional instrumentation of its somewhat cheesy cousin, folk metal. Instead, the Swedish band eschews anachronism in favor of progress, using the Scandinavian metal of the present to re-create a bygone era, allowing Karg to be a thrilling and intimidating heavy metal adventure for all listeners, regardless of their affinity for European folk traditions.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney