I won’t put too fine a point on it – Sarke are one of my favourite bands currently doing the rounds.

On new album Allsighr they continue their freewheeling journey around the highways an byways of heavy metal, seemingly completely unencumbered by stylistic concerns or any worries about ‘fitting in’. This, of course, is truly the ethos that is at the heart of the best black metal, going all the way back to the genre’s genesis, but it’s an oft-forgotten attitude. Sarke harvest all their favourite musical tropes – the scale of this operation goes way beyond cherry-picking – and then put them in a huge mashing pot, allowing the various flavours to steep in one another; the resultant noise far outstrips any journalist-applied labelling, meaning that Sarke are one of those rare bands – a truly progressive one.

Darkthrone Alumnus Nocturno Culto is at the heart of the maelstrom, taking on vocal duties again, but although he remains the fulcrum on which the band turns, this is once again very much a band effort. NC’s vocals, a pleasing mix of Tom Warrior and Laibach‘s Milan Fras, give the music focus; his is the one stable point for the listener to hold on to whilst the rest of the band explode outwards and away from that central position; jazzy shards mix things up on the title track thanks to the keyboards of Anders Hunstad, leavening the grim chaos conjured by the insistent percussion of Cato Bakkevold. Beheading The Circus Director starts off much as I imagine Deep Purple might sound if they were a Norwegian metal band just starting out before settling into a jauntily melodic tour de force… Sarke himself sits impassive amidst the chaos, imbuing his bass contributions with taste and wit, driving the band relentlessly forward as they strive to cover as much ground as is humanly possible in the short space afforded by something as crazily outmoded as an ‘album’.

At it’s most gloriously expansive, on the angular genius of Through The Thorns, the ghost of David Bowie runs through the music, generating loose, off-kilter rhythms reminiscent of the Thin White Dukes’ late seventies/early eighties works in a peculiar juxtaposition that is as successful as it is unexpected.

At the other end of the spectrum, Glacial Casket pulls no punches but delivers no surprises either, as Steinar Gundarson‘s axes whip up a glacial freeze of unrestricted riff warfare; and whilst this may be more what you expect from the band. it’s no less effective and certainly no less enjoyable. As part of the immersive experience of Allsighr, each part works in concert with it’s counterparts, building a rich wall of sound that the listener can truly lose themselves in.

Superbly curated, Allsighr is a collection of songs that delivers at every level on Sarke’s promise as one of the most sonically satisfying bands to come out of Norway in a long, long time. As the jaunty classic rock strains of The Reverberation of the Lost punch out of the speakers you’ll be left marvelling at just how a band that can create the icy thunder of Grim Awakening can sound like a blackened Uriah Heep on the same record – but that’s just part of the undoubted allure of this most beguiling of bands… Wonderful stuff.

Allsighr releases on November 5th.