Review by Felix on February 7, 2022.
Ladies and gentlemen, we know this unfortunate fact. Some artworks are no artworks, but an accident. The scribble that is supposed to adorn Axis Mundi (in German: "Weltachse") is too abstract at best, but really just crap. That’s an unforced error, because the many-sided booklet proves that Mavorim are able to catch the atmosphere of black metal visually. Images of snowy fir trees or barren autumn landscapes are not new, but always appropriate. Better still, they also convey the spirit of black metal with the musical content of their 66-minutes-opus from the year 2020. Okay, there are some ambient, non-metallic sequences and in rare cases it happens that they rather hurt the flow of the song ('Aus Asche Auferstanden') instead of making it better. But in general, they add a contrast and lend the material an extra portion of gloom – and they underline the artistic freedom of the one man project.
There is another non-furious component I must mention. From time to time, the guitars create melody lines that seem to be borrowed from a Viking rock band, especially in 'Wie Ein Sturm'. They transport a Northern feeling and enrich the album in their own way. Nevertheless, in general forward pushing, blistering hot, constantly attacking black metal characterizes this album. Its best part begins with 'Der Himmel Bricht Entzwei'. Here we have a perfect liaison between harsh outbreaks of vehement fury and atmospheric shades. The vocals support both facets while shifting from hateful nagging to clean singing and back. This is truly a monumental song, because it illustrates that fast and violent parts are not necessarily lacking catchiness. Although it is no simply designed earworm, the song has jumped into my brain and I guess it has come to stay there.
But the heart of Axis Mundi consists of three more tracks that conveniently follow directly. 'Verbannt In Dunkelheit' marks another example of Mavorim’s skill to combine raw forces and wild melodies to a fascinating piece of black metal. The commanding voice reminds me of the vocals on the debut of Nebelhorn and the fact that the lyrical approach is pretty similar to that of this further German one man project reinforces this impression. Anyway, the double bass and the drum rolls create a lot of pressure and each and every guitar tone benefits the song. The tetralogy of unbeatable tracks continues with 'Königsjäger'. It’s a frontal attack against the listener, Mavorim let steam off and the melodies, which fight against the fundamental heaviness, are expressive and simultaneous impressive. The mix of musical devastation and comparatively mild breezes comes close to perfection and another sequence with heroic, clean vocals adds the final touch. At the end, the title track ends a 22-minutes-eargasm. It features the same stylistic devices and the same aesthetics as its three perfect predecessors. Experience with pleasure the guitar lines that roll like a train over you. No doubt, an EP with these four tracks would deserve a 100% rating (and I would really enjoy to be able to give full marks once again). But somebody told me that life is not a dream.
The album ends with the Purity Through Fire typical cover song from another band of the label. The epic, triumphant yet also fatalistic 'Kaiserjägerlied' scores with great, intensive parts as well as a silent intermezzo, but its chorus does not fully convince. Be that as it may, Axis Mundi has much more to offer than a good, but not excellent song of another formation. Maybe it’s a very Teutonic black metal album; especially the lyrics of the title track indicate this assumption, because they deal with Germanic mythology. Nevertheless, the output can boat of all it needs in order to survive in international competition – among other things a raw yet well-defined production. But its best details are the creativity and the authenticity of its spiritual father. Doubtlessly, Purity Through Fire have some aces up their sleeves. Mavorim, Meuchelmord and Eisenkult; these stylistically comparable bands are fantastic, even though they are just three representatives of the rich German black metal scene. There are not many reasons left to be proud of my country, but its contributions to the fascinating subgenre are at least a small reason for patriotism.
Rating: 8.5 out of 102.06k
Review by Alex on February 14, 2020.
In strikingly similar fashion to Vananidr I’d almost missed out on Mavorim’s 2rd full length record (after having put out an EP, Aasfresser well worth the status of a full album). As if that was not an earful of music, we are later gifted with a full length under the title Axis Mundi that even without its 2 additional cover songs pushes the 1-hour mark that would challenge the attention span of some listeners. If you're the browsing kind then this is not for you, but if you’re one that likes a good old-fashioned endurance trial then Axis Mundi is tailored precisely with such in mind. Not only is the record pushing the clock, but it has the necessary variety and moments of awe to adore and keep your stay an interesting one. It was not that long ago Minenwerfer gave us a record astoundingly beyond words being "Alpenpasse" put out on Purity Through Fire, now fellow label-mate Mavorim has risen to the occasion of challenging affiliates and itself with Axis Mundi. Project engineer P. with the slight aid of Revenant providing additional vocals on ‘Wie ein Strum’ and Baptise doing the same for "Kaiserjägerlied" evinces a musical fortification too great for an average fan to even grasp the immensity of.
Immediately noticeable is P’s music utilizing the flute and keyboards which are assembled thoughtfully and brought forward in the mix that when heard comes as a moment of tranquil acoustic refreshment, an element that was mostly absent on past albums that were more straightforward black metal if I recall correctly, or at least on Silent Leges Inter Arma. To some level it was introduced on the Aasfresser EP along with a weighty sense of melancholy that hits you full throttle on ‘Aus Asche auferstanden’, one of the best pieces of black metal Mavorim has made since its inception. Bringing me to the intuition of the album that could be mostly described as an emotional assault, because the music on Axis Mundi has been approached at an angle greatly multi-layered and mature. Guess you could say it’s a well calculated move to introduce the listener to new ways, especially ones more familiar with the vast majority of Mavorim’s music; to incorporate new features early-on, rather-than stick to one formula for years then receive massive push-back from supporters when different components are installed.
You’ll get acquainted with the melancholy of aforementioned ‘Aus Asche auferstanden’, then without notice Axis Mundi would toss you into the battle with ‘Wo kriegergleiche Kräfte waltenh’ and ‘Wie ein Sturm’ to follow. Situated in between all this is a glowing body of guitar melodicism calling into effect yet more melancholic notes to aid the pagan-esque sung chanting while the latter shows a prominent traditional technique complemented by ambient keyboards. If you have ever been a supporter/listener of Kampfar’s music you’d find some resemblances to "Profan" and "Djevelmakt" existing on Axis Mundi, also a riff structure somewhat similar to Sxuperion’s ‘Irreligious Cosmic Void’ appears on ‘Wo kriegergleiche Kräfte walten’. A favorable degree of tempo shaping and subtle to conspicuous assertions of tuneful ambiance continually reappears on songs down the order such as ‘Der Himmel bricht entzwei’ that again finds ample room to insert chanting pagan-esque vocals. Because the record has many succinct ways to keep the listener engaged, it never comes to a standstill or point of inactivity, thus avoiding the curse of attentive coercion. Sometimes you’d have to force yourself to sit through something this vast but due to the scope of Axis Mundi musical depth it comes as a welcomed joy than an obligation.
What I’ve come to find striking and characteristic of Mavorim’s music since discovery, is the ability to give credible representation of the artwork; on Axis Mundi, they’re both enigmatic/obscure and poignant emanations from the cover depiction that in turn is exalted throughout the record. Can’t miss a note with a production so clear that in turn justifies the plausible covers of ‘Wie ein Sturm’ (featuring. Revenant) and ‘Kaiserjägerlied' (featuring. Baptist).
This is the step Mavorim needed so greatly to transform the music, hence if a new recording should come it would only be right to keep in steady footing of the projected path as to not contradict the progress made on Axis Mundi.
Rating: 9.1 out of 102.06k