Review Summary: I want to Mork.
Sometimes I do get a quiet moment to myself. In these instances I find myself sitting in my study, sipping my nightly wine—reclined in the gentle embrace of a well-worn armchair, but I never feel quite at ease, ever. You see, for those that do not know, my mind is constantly busy. Whether it’s the tumults of life, the frantic rush of work or the insane self paranoia that I’ve somehow (even after checking it thrice) left the fu
cking oven on. Still, there are some comforts to be had, especially in regards to my music addiction. In typical fashion, I’ve been on a hunt for quality black metal to usher in the new year, but I’ve come up somewhat short or distracted by the endless onslaught of releases that are constantly added to my library. I guess that last part is my fault. I don’t have to listen to every
single metal album, follow every
single Bandcamp link or digest every
monolithic doom record. As such, it’s taken until the third month of 2021 to offer up an undeniably enjoyable black metal record without gimmickry.
That’s mostly because Mork’s fifth album is a testament to an era of prestige among the black metal genre. Mentions of fellow countrymen Darkthrone and Mayhem come quite naturally for Mork mastermind, Thomas Eriksen, for the act doesn’t hide under a host of trend-hugging, nor is there an effort to force innovation. Rather, Mork’s corpse paint lives on through the use of simple black metal aesthetic, high production values and slight modernism within the band’s more traditional soundscapes. Now that probably sounds like a contradiction of sorts, but for a style within a genre so Hell-bent on staying “trve”, “raw” and “underground” albums like Katedralen
are able to get ahead of the acts that take pride in their tin-can, unintelligible productions. While I understand that this may be a particular turn off for that elitist crowd (you know, the type of fans that have early 90s cult cassettes jammed sideways up their back passages) it doesn’t take away from the fact that Mork’s Katedralen
riffs with the best of them, while providing a clearer, more accessible soundscape.
The comparisons to the likes of Darkthrone seep through the opening “Dødsmarsjen” and bleed well into “Svartmalt” (made even more obvious since Nocturno Culto’s distinct growls actually feature here) while “Arv” becomes particularly angular. Riffs surge around authentic black metal snarls and lunging percussive progressions, taking that all important aesthetic mentioned earlier and polishing it with a clear, refined production. The vocals become wrapped in grandeur, providing a sense of melody while maintaining both storytelling and blackened grit. Eriksen takes the tried and trve
fundamentals of the genre’s stereotypes and blends them into a sonic landscape that is as much a sum of its parts as it is individual. If not for the Kampfar laden feature on “Født Til Å Herske” or the doom filled closer, courtesy of Skepticism’s very own Eero Pöyry who provides a new depth to which Eriksen pushes on the staple of his sound, Mork would fall into the trappings of style consistency, lacking the basic contrast that would define an otherwise interesting listen—but I’m getting ahead of myself.
“Evig Intens Smerte” is a vicious sonic assault that hearkens to the punk-filled Darkthrone days while ringing dissonant melody soars over a blasting assault of riffs and snare. It’s like Mork somehow got hold of the Darkthrone playbook, took the bits that Eriksen liked (just about all of it) and yet, kept a modern sound that lightly pushes at the black metal box they play in. In similar fashion, “Født Til Å Herske” snakes into the fray, but it’s the mid-paced tempo that helps the album stay accessible. Here, like many other sections, Mork’s 2021 album swaps all out blistering instrumental passages with head-bangable groove. With this in mind it’s no wonder that Katedralen
is stronger in its second half. Some of the record’s best riffs feature on “Lysbæreren” while a sombre tone is assured in the closing “De Fortapte Sjelers Katedral” courtesy of organ and dirge like progressions where Skepticism’s Eero melds a doomy atmosphere into Mork’s polished black metal landscape.
For what it’s worth, we metalheads give a lot of flack to groups who tread both the paths already trodden and those that try something new. Despite how jaded consumers of music have become in recent years, there’s still something of worth in recreating the influences of old. Mork may be guilty of taking the Darkthrone schtick into the new era, but it’s a style done convincingly well. Hell, even I’m guilty of perpetuating the same ideals I’ve brought up—and yet I’ve still found a more than solid black metal release in the year’s first quarter; the corpse paint comes mandatory.