Written by: AP on 01/04/2018 21:31:16

One of the brightest prospects ever to emerge from the New S**t Showcase, which our colleagues at host every year in order to shine a light on the up-and-coming rock and metal artists in Denmark, is without a doubt Bersærk. The stoner metal quartet from Århus was quick to impress at the event in 2014, performing with a confidence and charisma that belied their inexperience, and the following year, they consolidated what had already become a glowing reputation with the release of their début album, “Mulm” to rave reviews. The hype surrounding Bersærk has only increased since then, to the extent that these days, it would not be unusual for one of their concerts to sell out weeks or even months in advance. As you can imagine, the expectations for this sophomore outing, “Jernbyrd”, have thus been colossal — yet there are no signs of pressure, no seismic shifts in terms of sound or style, nor any wild forays into the unknown to worry about during the 42 minutes that the record spans across.

Indeed, after an ambient, shouted word intro, the listener is assured that Bersærk has no intentions whatsoever of straying outside familiar territory with the de-facto opening track, “Kampånd”. Its driving rhythm, simple, punchy riffage and brooding melodies were all turned into signatures of this band on the aforementioned “Mulm”, and they comprise the spine of “Jernbyrd” as well — but where “Mulm” sometimes felt like it was conceived by a one-track mind when it came to the deployment of those three elements, there seems to be more dynamism to the songwriting underlying “Jernbyrd”. Not only do the songs themselves twist and turn to a greater degree, but the album as a whole also presents a more diverse listening experience now, as evidenced by the presence of both the most direct and the most ambitious material that Bersærk has produced to date. The likes of “Skyggeland” and “Niddingesang” bait the listener with a pair of striking choruses during which frontman Casper Roland Popp once again raises eyebrows with his powerful voice and sharp diction, while tracks such as “Intet glemt, før alt er brændt” and “Fimbuls børn” demand from the listener a willingness to dig a little deeper in order to unearth their lasting value.

“Intet glemt…” begins in a quiet yet ominous manner, awash with mysterious effects and samples as it swells into a massive, slow-moving tide of sludge metal, while “Fimbuls børn” creates intrigue with its tribal atmosphere as a clean, psychedelic guitar melody mingles with shamanic drums and baritone chanting during much of the track’s first half. It does transition into a more ‘traditionally’ Bersærk style of song halfway, however, as Lars Evers engages his distortion pedal and rolls out the riffs, striking each chord hard enough that you feel them the pit of your stomach. Still, this return to a harsher tone in no way reneges on the promise of expanded ideas that sets “Jernbyrd” apart from the previous album. Granted, neither “År nul” nor the title track that arrive in “Fimbuls børn”’s wake have the same aspirations about becoming standout moments. But the majestic “Solens folk”, which awaits you on the other side, justifies your perseverance; the progressive sludge metal monolith is the most accomplished song Bersærk has written since “Trældom”, the titular track from their 2013 EP, bringing the record to a conclusion with a towering crescendo of triumph and disquiet.

With “Jernbyrd”, Bersærk thus complete their transformation from a bright prospect to a potent force in the Danish metal scene, and the logical next step must be to showcase that potential to audiences abroad. The fact that Popp chooses to sing in his native tongue is unlikely to be a stumbling block in that respect (and certainly the likes of Halshug and Kvelertak have proven that it does not need to be, as long as your melodies and/or attitude are in order), but in order to reach that stage, Bersærk would do well to shave off the stuff that is ‘merely’ decent (“Tordensol”, “År nul” and “Jernbyrd”) and focus on the edge that makes the rest of the album such an invigorating listen. Bersærk has made leaps since debuting five years ago, and all the signs are there that the Jutlandic act has what it takes to become one of the foremost metal bands that people associate with Denmark.


Download: Skyggeland; Intet glemt, før alt er brændt; Fimbuls børn; Solens folk
For the fans of: Bombus, Orange Goblin, Red Fang
Listen: Facebook

Release date 20.03.2018
Nordenvind Musikproduktion / Osmium Records

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