King Of Asgard – :taudr:

Sitting somewhere between an EP and a full-length album, :taudr: (Trollmusic) is the newest release by Swedish Viking enthusiasts King of Asgard. Featuring five tracks focusing mainly on death and the afterlife, this latest record follows on from their 2014 release, Karg (Metal Blade) and continues, rather unsurprisingly, in the same Nordic/Black/Folk Metal vein as before.

Due to the departure of drummer Karsten Larsson and guitarist Lars Tängmark, Beckmann and long-term bassist Jonas Albrektsson brought in Ted Sjulmark (guitar) and Mathias Westman (drums) as replacements, and the four of them do a great job on their first recording together.

Taking the title from an inscription carved on an ancient rune stone close to their hometown of Mjölby, the band semi-translated the actual word ‘Tauther’ but adapted it for artistic purposes as it sounds closer to the actual Swedish word “döder” meaning dead/death. Really, chaps? Isn’t Swedish a difficult enough language to learn in the first place without deciding to make words up?

The opening blast of ‘The Curse and the Wanderer’ is reminiscent of Satyricon, but the slower sections accompanied by clean choral vocals and an ominously deep, rumbling horn is where the song really begins to shine.  Beginning with that most metal of all instruments, the hurdy-gurdy, ‘Death… And A New Sun’ keeps up the Satyricon influence but quickly moves into traditional Folk Metal territory with a riff that would have felt comfortably at home on 1995’s Nordavind (Moonfog) album, the sole release by shortlived Fenriz/Satyr project, Storm.

The title track, and ‘For the Fury of the Norse’ are more (quality) variations on the same theme and the proceedings close with ‘Upon Raging Waves’, a song written by  founder member Karl Beckmann twenty years ago for his former band Mithotyn.

Keeping to a path well-trodden by the likes of Bathory, Einherjer, and Falkenbach to name but a few, King of Asgard may not be doing anything massively original or groundbreaking, but that’s certainly not to say that :taudr: isn’t a highly enjoyable experience.