Draken – Book of Black

Being fascinated whilst getting a good pasting is not everyone’s idea of fun but if it comes in the shape of Book of Black we doubt few would turn down the experience, certainly if their appetites embrace voraciously heavy, infernally nagging rock ‘n’ roll.

This is the new album from Norwegian rockers DRAKEN, a vinyl led outing from a trio which drew loud and keen plaudits with their self-titled debut album back in 2021. Formed in Oslo in 2018 by close friends, bassist/vocalist Hallvard Gaardløs (Spidergawd/Orango) and drummer Andre Drage, with guitarist Even Helte Hermansen (Bushman’s Revenge) recruited soon after, the band as that early encounter proved, uncages a sound bred in progressive rock and raw power but with an inclination to embrace other intensity loaded essences. Book of Black is an even hungrier proposal in that fusing, one equally exposing a richer vein of imagination and dexterity of evolution in their music. It is a beast with feral needs but also at times a sonic seductress of surprise and unpredictability woven with psych and progressive enterprise and from start to finish an imposing pleasure.

Book of Black opens with its title track and immediately springs a wall of invitation and confrontation, both kilned in suspense and aggression. It soon begins moving over the senses with leviathan-esque menace, but equally casts a seduction of melodic flames, manipulative rhythms and vocal rapacity backed by calmer harmonies. Swiftly the song gripped ears and appetite, its stoner rock flirtations and prog rock intimations magnetic lures in its untamed and contagious prowess.

A superb start to the record continues with Bastards, a nostrils flaring tirade of sound and aggression with its own invasive virulence. Heavy metal and dirty rock ‘n roll entangle in its muscular incitement with Gaardløs again a vocal lead in dominance and arousal, the track subsequently wired in sonic dexterity and like its predecessor sharing unexpected twists which only escalated attention.

We Deserve to Suffer is next up, quickly moving in from afar with a web of sonic vines around an increasingly fertile rhythmic engagement. In no time, the track is strolling near on prowling the listener as vocal and sonic invention gathers and colludes, the latter forging its own entanglement with ravening rhythms. If not as potent an orchestration of our muscles, the song firmly had the imagination bound in its craft and individuality before House of Horrors brought the record’s first side to a close. Featuring Vegard Lien Bjerkan on the organ, the song emerges in a picturesque realm of suggestion cast around lures of riff and groove woven knots. It is a tenebrific affair, a Tartarean like theatre of invention and implication and thickly absorbing as it pressed down, enthralment further escalating as it reveals a demonic celebration in melodic capitation and organ bred seduction.

Side B is opened by Symbiote which sees Anne Kaasboll offering her guest vocal radiance to a track which saunters in with oppression and arousal in its creative insistence. Across its evolving landscape though, it reveals oases of harmonic beauty and mesmeric warmth even as rhythms continue to majestically canter. Another pinnacle in a landscape of peaks, the song keenly sparked ears and imagination whilst forcibly nagging the body, Devotees of the Faith sprung in similar fertility but soon forging its own personality of invasion and recruitment. It too only courted lustful reactions as it marched forth and besieged ears and imagination, again DRAKEN’S conjuring with old school and fresh metal and rock nurtured flavours proving addictive.

With Relentless Sinners searing its presence and unpredictable prowess and ideation on an ever greedier appetite and Bloodguilt flowing over the senses like a Hell spawn plague, the Book of Black departed as mightily and impressively as it began. In fact, the final infestation of imagination proved our favourite, the song crawling and fingering the darkest corners of its and our depths with virulent craft and sonic transgression.  Across its near ten minute long caliginous experience, all of the rich attributes making up the album were gathered and evolved again in a tale of fiendish temptation.

And that description fits the album as a whole, a release often brutal and oppressive but also a beast sharing and weaving the thrill of startling invention and virulent cunning; dare you stand eye to eye with the Book of Black?

Book of Black is out now via Majestic Mountain Records; available digitally and on Ltd Ed vinyl (white/purple merge with black splatter) @ https://drakentheband.bandcamp.com/album/book-of-black and https://majesticmountainrecords.bigcartel.com/product/draken-book-of-black

Upcoming Live Shows:

Feb 17 Statsraaden Bar & Reception, Bergen, Norway

Feb 18 Vaterland Bar & Scene, Oslo, Norway

Feb 28 Knust, Hamburg, Germany

Mar 01 M.A.U. Club, Rostock, Germany

Mar 02 VERA, Groningen, Netherlands

Mar 04 TUROCK (Einlass ab 18 J.), Essen, Germany

Mar 05 Gebäude 9, Cologne, Germany

Mar 06 Kesselhaus, Schlachthof Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, Germany

Mar 08 Le Backstage By The Mill, Paris, France

Mar 10 Stage Live, Bilbao, Spain

Mar 11 Moby Dick Club, Madrid, Spain

Mar 12 Sala Bóveda, Barcelona, Spain

Mar 14 Rock ‘n Eat, Lyon, France

Mar 15 Gaswerk Kulturzentrum, Winterthur, Switzerland

Mar 16 Im Wizemann – Club, Stuttgart, Germany

Mar 17 Hirsch, Nuremberg, Germany

Mar 18 Halle, Backstage, Munich, Germany

Mar 19 Szene Wien, Vienna, Austria

Mar 21 Naumanns (Felsenkeller Leipzig), Leipzig, Germany

Mar 22 Frannz Club, Berlin, Germany

Mar 23 Die Pumpe, Kiel, Germany

Mar 24 Godset, Kolding, Denmark

Mar 25 Stengade, Copenhagen, Denmark


Pete RingMaster 02/02/2023

Copyright RingMaster Review

Categories: Album, Music

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