Reissuing classic Norwegian black metal albums is a small but growing industry, of which the label ATMF has made itself part. Perished may not be the most well-known name among the (late) 2nd wave of the land of Vikings, but the band and their 1998 album Kark are still timeless underground classics. Largely melodic, the full-length CD contains everything one could expect from 90’s Norwegian black metal, and then some.
Opening with an acoustic intro, the album soon takes off with sharp guitar fuzz, chords and melodies primarily in minor, and screeching screams for vocals. There is ample use of synthesizers, but it rarely dominates the sound completely. In a certain way, Kark was and is a more polished and certainly better produced version of Dimmu Borgir’s (great) For All Tid – an impression strengthened by the all-Norwegian song titles and lyrics. Other strong influences are Satyricon’s The Shadowthrone and Enslaved’s Frost, though Perished put all elements together in their very own way. Kark is the sort of album which will actually produce a deep sense of nostalgia in anyone who grew up on Norwegian black metal in the 90’s, even if that anyone hears it for the first time today.
Hints of folk music, mid- to fastpaced drumwork and well-placed synth lines whose sound is obviously from another time than contemporary VSTs and sample packages – staples of the album’s era. The focus is clearly on melodies and atmosphere rather than aggression, though the vocals, sharp guitar sounds and regular outbursts of blast beat based, synthesizer free passages mean that the latter is not really lacking either. Whatever may have been implied above, the value of Perished’s album goes beyond mere historical curiosity – it is tight, thoroughly gripping, and while self-evidently based in the period during which it was made it has also stood the test of time extremely well.