Karg’s Intense New Album Packs Emotionally Crushing Post-Black Metal

The Austrian post-black metal artist Karg has arrived with their latest album Traktat — and wow, it rips. The record feels like a solemnly powerful contemplation of pain, some of which marks the musical path that’s laid out here on the way to some kind of barely cracking through light in the distance.

The songs on this piece all prove quite lengthy. With unique nuances among them, diving into the album often feels like careening wildly on a chaotic sea wracked by some wretched storm. Touches like the repeatedly quite prominently flourishing violin performances help deliver the album a sense of steadily progressing energy, as do the floating atmospherics and sometimes folksy, close-to-the-chest haze running through this album, but Traktat delivers that concoction on an ever-shifting foundation of stretched out, devilishly contorted riffing. Often, Karg sticks to comparatively slower performances than one might expect from a black metal-adjacent piece — there’s not an overabundance of blast beats here, for instance — but every element feels like it’s thereby been stretched across some kind of grueling extractor to exact the maximum emotional energy. Nothing feels necessarily dialed back. Instead, menace consistently lurks in the metaphorical shadows with the agony subtly extended.

Traktat delivers a steadily churning background sea of blast beats and dramatically emerging riffs that feel like lightning bolts shooting across the sky. Thanks to the intricacies of the sound, which run from those apparent violins through keys and other atmosphere-setting elements, the pressure of the underlying foundation gets translated into an emotional one. The songs feel like inescapable catalysts to “let go,” in a sense, no matter pain that may await. That feeling feels well exemplified by moments like the conclusion of track two, called “Jahr Ohne Sommer,” which soars with regally epic blasts that pack definitely powerful, forward-marching energy, even if it’s not exactly overly bright-feeling.

Although the lyrics are in German, so they’re not immediately accessible if you don’t happen to know the language, Karg’s usage of hardcore-esque yells in place of more traditional black metal screeches helps define the real personal feel of this record, even with its maganamity firmly in place. The lyrics just aren’t necessarily the be-all, end-all — Karg have delivered an all-encompassing musical journey off into a churning sea.

5/5 Stars

Check out the music below! Traktat is available via AOP Records