Seed of Justice


 With a promising title such as ''Seed of Justice'', Norwegian band SKAARV's debut EP plunges […]
By Charlotte ''Downright Destructive'' Lamontagne
April 22, 2015
Skaarv - Seed of Justice album cover

 With a promising title such as ''Seed of Justice'', Norwegian band SKAARV's debut EP plunges us in a universe of distinct riffs and interesting tempo works. It isn't somber nor complex and should probably not be qualified as powerful either. No, it has more of a virile and dominant, heavy feel. As the band has themselves stated, their style is Sludge oriented, borderline to Stoner Metal... And really, it only takes a listen to realize the Groove influences too. The album, as a whole, has a recurrent theme of mid-tempo, sustained notes and general distortion. The energy derives from the tone before all and the content is a concentrated mixture of emotions, with a bluesy touch. It's the kind of record you spin when in need of a slow, master vibe. Really not the slaying, abrasive well-known metal us fans are used to, but sort a crossing between BLACK SABBATH and Phil Anselmo's DOWN, both bands being cited as an inspiration for the Norwegian formation.

The wind blows, mirages of forests and ocean coasts flash before our eyes. Enter the melodic acoustic guitars with a simple harmony, leading the way. Rise the drums and eventually the raging guitar that sticks through the whole record. ''Through The Kelp Forest'' has nothing to do with the rest of the album, and is probably the only piece with Scandinavian influences given that the rest could be qualified of ol' southern, Louisianan Sludge. It remains simple, yet announces a contrast to come. Is it melancholy, nostalgia? The intentions can't be quite figured. An echo is sustained, letting place to a glorious explosion. Out of the storm strikes a fluid, epic riffing guitar. On goes the groovy, but heavy tone. Instantly, the southern influences can be heard and the massive bluesy feel cannot be denied.

''Black Cormorant'', the greatest track for its creative riffs, establishes a high standard for the rest of the EP. The song often switches rhythm, from the main riff to the bridge tearing down the general tempo. As it can be entertaining for the ear at first, this recipe of structure will soon be too catchy and give a repetitive turn to the 5 other songs to come. ''Bow'', the third track, also begins with a clean but chunky guitar work. Mr. Péter on the vocals has sure a soothing, deep voice and just as his idol M. Anselmo, the man twists chant and raucous screams. The result is explosive, placing virility on the same pedestal as passion and heart. Although the overall product isn't very complex, some greater qualities distance themselves from the poor drum work and the almost-total absence of the bass: the solos are flown away and everything gravitates around feeling and interpretation. There are no rapid, mind-blowing scales and brilliant techniques, but it is all excused by the simple fact that Sludge revolves around groove rather than show-off skills.

Some pieces, such as ''Blood, Guts and Shit'n Tears'' use syncopation and varied accents in order to elevate the intensity to a higher state. And let's not leave out the tremendous melodies and the harmony build ups as the major essence of the album. With the chanted screams also leading to the sole core of every song, howling through every note, ''Seed of Justice'' stands out in all its beauty for the foundations are solid, despite the fact that they are repetitive. Considering it's a verse-chorus-verse-bridge-solo-chorus structure, the record could sometimes use a bit of brash tendencies. Every song is based on a good, creative riff along with two variations and only forces the listener to admit that the album is stale. If there were to be another memorable song, I would go with ''Crawl Back To Hell'' for its distinct introduction of drums which brings us to a climax when the guitars slay it all with an interesting new riff. The effects are solid: the whole song gives a slow up and down headbang feel. Sadly, it ends with the same mid-tempo breakdown of long-distorted power chords and chanted screams. When the final eponym track started, my hopes were really high up. I had categorised that one to be la pièce de resistance, the culminant point of the album. Needless to say, with some original ideas and new elements (tremolos, slides, ground-breaking riffs...) the band still did not manage to lift the song all the way up and didn't create the ''conclusion'' effect every album deserves.

Really, if you are looking for an ambiance, vibe-ish, groovy feel record then you must certainly own this one. ''Seed of Justice'' is a great listen if you are mostly into heavy tones. With the dropped down guitars and the deep persuading voice, the sustained distortions and the powerful screams, SKAARV's debut EP has a lot to offer, even though I doubt it will be highly remembered. For its lack of originality and structural changes, the record drops way down even if the commitment and talent are very present. I recommend that the band try to step out of their comfort zone, adding more bass and drums and definitely bigger bridges or blast beats. It's the sort of record one could use to introduce his non-metalhead friends to metal. It gives a positive image and idea of the movement, without scaring off anyone since it has nothing to do with rapid abrasive metal. It is very accessible to all. The riffs definitely stand out for their creativity and ambitiousness, but the overall album has no innovative touch. It stays true to the roots of Southern Sludge, and will please any fan of DOWN, BLACK SABBATH or even PANTERA. With more melody (without becoming symphonic or atmospheric), this record falls into the labels of Groove and Stoner.

7 / 10


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"Seed of Justice" Track-listing:

1. Through The Kelp Forest
2. Black Cormorant
3. Bow
4. Blood, Guts And Shit'n Tears
5. Fallen
6. Crawl Back To Hell
7. The Seed Of Justice

Skaarv Lineup:

André Iversen Péter - Vocals
Kurt Idar Harnes - Guitar
Øyvind Vasstein - Guitar
Frank Ulla - Bass
Arne Martin Harnes - Drums

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