Review by Vladimir on March 8, 2023.
When somebody mentions black metal or second wave black metal, you instantly think of Norway, right? Of course, a lot of people would associate it with Norway because it’s one of the country's biggest cultural exports since the early 90’s and has remained popular ever since. Many bands of this era are still active and releasing new material, thus continuing to influence every generation of black metal enthusiasts to become musicians. Some say that the genre lost its magic after the mid 90s or early 2000s, while some say otherwise. Whatever you make of it, Norwegian black metal is still going strong with every new band that rises from “the depths”. One of those new bands I’m talking about is the band MORK from Halden. Many consider them as the “New dawn of Norwegian black metal”, and rightfully so. The band may be of the new generation, but the musical DNA of the bands from the 90’s is very much present in their music and they have successfully conquered the hearts of many black metal fans worldwide. I remember like it was yesterday when I first heard Mork’s new songs 'Arv', 'Svartmalt' and 'Født Til å Herske' back in 2021. Their fifth album Katedralen was just to be released and you can’t imagine my surprise upon hearing the songs, I was completely blown away. The entire album was a masterpiece and also my number 1 of the year 2021. Sometime later, I even got the CD of Mork’s Katedralen as a birthday gift from a friend when he was on a business trip to Germany, so of course I continued worshipping this album because it saved my life during difficult times amidst the pandemic. Now it’s 2023, and the new Mork album is on the horizon. Their sixth album Dypet is now “the new black”, released via Peaceville Records on 12” vinyl, CD and digital streaming platforms. To put everything into words or more precisely with a slight joke from that same friend he came up with: "When I came out of the Katedralen, I quickly found out how Dypet (dipped) my ass was". The hype that surrounded Mork back in 2021 still lives on 2 years later, even with the release of Dypet, so let’s dive into “the depths” of Mork’s new album and see if it’s living up to the hype.
The first track 'Indre Demoner' starts everything off with clean chords that switch into open string chords combined with melody, that altogether build up the dark atmosphere before kicking in with grim and frostbitten mid-tempo black metal, filled with catchy riffs, melancholic melodies and very cold harsh vocals. The second track 'Forført Av Kulden' radiates such a range of emotions with the groovy bass line, open string riffs and very dark but depressing melodies that reminded me of my first experience of hearing Katatonia’s "Brave Murder Day" album. The fourth track 'Et Kall Fra Dypet' finally brings the speed and aggression you’ve been waiting for, with faster drumming and catchy riffing in the vein of 90’s Darkthrone albums that’s the “crème de la crème” of Mork’s music. The inclusion of screaming vocals by Erlend Hjelvik (Hjelvik, ex-Djevel, ex-Kvelertak) on the fifth track 'Høye Murer' expresses strong feelings of agony, even when sang in duet with Thomas Eriksen’s harsh singing. The sixth track 'Bortgang', which was previously released as a single on digital streaming platforms, is the track from the album that people are mostly familiar with. 'Bortgang' has a very slow and mid-tempo-based songwriting arrangement that creates a foggy and cloudy musical feeling like you’re roaming freely in an empty small town where you’re being watched by spirits while slowly departing from the world you’ve known. The final track 'Tilbake Til Opprinnelsen' has some vibrant synth with fast black metal on top that creates a very unusual feeling, while also serving as a closure to the listener’s travel within the depths. Mork’s signature riffs and melodies with catchy drum beats make a return for this album, while focusing more on the melancholic side of music rather than the atmospheric one like the previous album. The entire experience is heavily relying on the darker side of the human psyche which is indeed the essence of MORK, but this album hits so much differently than Katedralen in terms of listener’s perspective. Even while looking at David Thiérrée’s cover art, I instantly think of Theodor Kittelsen’s surreal artwork and that of Jannicke Wiese-Hansen, especially of her work on Burzum’s first two albums, Burzum self-titled and "Det Som Engang Var". Although it may seem to many that Thomas Eriksen is trying to do some return to form with this entire approach to musical and visual representation, in my opinion I think that he is preserving the essence that seems long forgotten or generally avoided in the modern world of black metal. The production of Dypet is pretty much the same as the previous releases, keeping the signature rotten and decaying sound of Mork faithful to the core with the raw and dry guitars, clean drums and harsh vocals which are well fitted into the album’s overall mix.
I cannot say for sure if Dypet just keeps it true to Mork’s concept or if it further expands upon the band’s core foundation. It is a remarkable album that manages to express emotions of melancholy and suffering from start to finish, and I dare not compare it to its predecessors, nor would I dare to question if it holds a candle to Katedralen which I still hold in very high regard. Mork’s mythology just keeps on growing with each new album that doesn’t even think for a second about straying far off into the forbidden zone of pure mediocrity. Thomas Eriksen obviously has a clear conscience that successfully maintains his burning passion and dedication to keep the band’s story going full throttle. I can’t wait to see the band perform live on a European tour, while hopefully getting my hands on the physical copy of Dypet in the meantime and continue enjoying it.
Rating: 9 out of 10759