By Dr. Abner Mality
Here’s one of the more unexpected and enjoyable records of the year. Based on their name, I was expecting either MÖTORHEAD-ish metal rock or some kind of pseudo-glam. What I got was epic Viking death metal channeling the early Viking era of BATHORY...think “Hammerheart” instead of “Twilight of the Gods”.
It’s a style we don’t see much of these days and RÖKKR do it very well. It’s a soaring, driving kind of music that brings to mind images of Viking dragonboats cleaving the North Sea on the way to a raid. “Raven’s Wing” starts with clean guitar that has BATHORY’s “From Father To Son” written all over it and then comes forth with chunky, metallic riffs and lead guitar melodies with an ancient feel. And that’s just the intro...the real epic starts with “Oath of Blood”, which is marching music for mighty berserkers. Speaking of berserker, that’s what RÖKKR warchief Kyle House sounds like with his guttural death grunts. The vocals is where the band differs from its inspiration, as House sticks to the death grunts all the way through. He also cuts loose with screaming leads that have a bit of rock n’ roll flavor...very reminiscent of Quorthon at his jammiest.
The remaining three songs all follow in the same epic warrior mold, with some riffs also sounding like IMMORTAL or even INQUISITION at times in addition to the BATHORY influences. The whole album made me feel like drinking blood from a ram’s horn and clapping on an iron helmet, it’s that good. RÖKKR is the kind of band that pays great tribute to their inspirations by conjuring the spirit they themselves once summoned. This is an essential purchase!