"I wish the listener wanting to return to this album again and again. I do know that, in this day and age, albums have a short life-span. There’s stuff coming out every minute and the internet is overflowing. But, I believe that a great and true piece of art prevails. So, hopefully this one will be a stand-out." - says Thomas Eriksen, singer of Mork - Norway's newest black metal sensation to grace us with the raw, primitive black metal fans have been longing to hear.
Mork's newest album, Det Svarte Juv (or, roughly translated to English, 'The Black Abyss') set for release on April 19th is the follow-up to their album Eremittens Dal, which was released in 2017 when Mork was signed to Peaceville Records. It has made quite an impression on fans and musicians in the black metal "scene", if you will - positive in every way.
Mork has managed to seemingly resurrect "True Norwegian Black Metal", with its simplistic (yet ear-catching) drumming, tremolo picking, and blast beats the genre is so famous for, as so many modern musicians have gone a more experimental route or tried to include instruments not usually included on a black metal album, such as synthesisers and choral arrangements. The album Det Svarte Juv was mastered by Jack Control at Enormous Door, whom is also responsible for Darkthrone. The similarities are there yet Mork takes you on a personal journey with this album, due to turmoil and loss Eriksen was bequeathed in the past few years. And it is a large running theme through this unique and truly special album.
The album begins with 'Morketeggelse', which brings the gracile yet somber cello to the forefront, almost not only setting the tone for the song, yet for the entire album. It also keeps with the bands' roots, being from Halden, Norway - it has a very ‘Scandinavian’ feel to it, with the band using a deep horn sound and Eriksens' piercing yet deep, guttural vocals - almost in a chant-like rhythm - and you are taken to the deep forests and high fjords of Norway. From this first track, you know straightaway that you have stumbled onto something much different from anything you have heard in the black metal genre of late, and it brings excitement to the listener to see what is coming next.
'Da Himmelen Falt' is the next song, with it comes the multifarious yet still primitive-sounding drums, along with some very heavy riffs and Eriksens' deep and thunderous voice. This is most definitely an homage to the roots of black metal, with a modern feel that reminds you it is not the black metal of old; it has been taken and individualised by the band, breathing new life into it. A fantastic song in which every instrument is featured in some way, which is another way that Mork has reshaped the 'typical' sound.
'På Tvers Av Tidene' is the third song, which has been released with a lyric video in Norwegian. This most definitely has an atmospheric element to it, starting with an eerie guitar melody until the steady tom and crash cymbal come in. Even if Norwegian is not your mother tongue, you will be humming the tune of this seizing chorus. There is absolutely no pretentiousness about this song and it is one of the reasons it is so encapsulating; it is very straightforward, with Eriksens' throaty and ominous clean vocals and a sultry kind of chord progression that adds to its' atmosphere of mystery and despair. Absolutely one of the best songs on the album that will have you yearning for the next.
'Den Utstøtte' coming next, bringing more of the hint of desperation that Eriksen is singing of. It does not have a conventional rhythm, with a heavy bass line that brings a real depth to the guitar melodies. There is also a black n' roll feel, with the song never going over the top or in a direction that wouldn't make sense to the listener- straightforward, well-played ROCK.
The next song has been released as a video by Peaceville Records and it is absolutely one of the best and most interesting black metal songs that have been released to date. Starting with a startling guttural scream from Eriksen, there is a defined groove to the song - a cadence that is unmistakable and you will find your head moving to this steady rhythm. Once again, each musician is able to show their array of talent, the song building up to an ending that is a reminder of the roots of black metal, sounding very much like a Burzum chant when Eriksen sings in a clean voice near towards the end. Ending with a few lone chords, it begs you to step inside the eerie quiet you are invited into. Most definitely a stand out on the album and a brilliant display of all of Mork's talents.
'Den Kalde Blodsvei' is the seventh song; calling to attention the emotional focus of the album. Within the unexpected chords, there is an unsettling feel, even in Eriksens' voice. The song does not take you where expected and I imagine this to be a metaphor of the strife that Eriksen has been experiencing since 2017. Mork is able to convey so much through simplicity, without overdoing anything, especially in this daunting song.
'Siste Reis' follows and again, this song takes on a black n’ roll feel with all the typical black metal elements. The vocals are executed in a very unique way, with Eriksen spitting out each word, emphasising each syllable, almost skipping along. Yet this is no nursery rhyme, for these emphatic words are dictated with an ounce of pain behind every one. The guitar tone is a definitive reminder of their influences, Darkthrone and Burzum; and the last minute of the song takes you to a obscure place that gives the listener an atmospheric feeling of an abyss, leaving you in the pitch-dark as I believe it was intended. A stunning ending to quite a dramatic song.
'Det Svarte Juv', the album's namesake, is the final track - and it does NOT disappoint. Starting with a slow groove (not for long), Eriksen teeters from clean vocals to the growling guttural vocals with ease. Within these vocals, whether you speak Norwegian or not, the pain and pleading he wears on his sleeve like the guitar strapped around him. Even though there is a feeling of utter despair, you also get the sense of HOPE - Which hasn't come with any other song on the album; and the song builds until it ends with a kind of white noise, a static- stagnation. It is a prolific ending to a magnanimous album that will most definitely have fans of black metal excited again.
Eriksen says all the attention the album is getting is a bit overwhelming, yet in his unmistakably humble way he says, "I never in a thousand years imagined Mork would bring me this far. It’s a great gift, and I never take anything for granted." Proper advice that perhaps we should all take, yet in the meantime, if you are a fan of black metal or any metal, really, this is NOT an album to be missed. For the hype is actually worthwhile in this case - the irony being this album is based on the ultimate despair- and it has brought the metal community a bright future to look forward to with Mork.
'Det Svarte Juv' will be released on 19 April 2019 and Mork will be performing at INFERNO FESTIVAL on 19/20 April 2019.
Review by Marisa Dymond