Myrkraverk – Nær Døden (2018) REVIEW

With the grating spittle of Norwegian black metal’s earliest traditions spouting from the edges of their mouths Myrkraverk are entirely serious about upholding their self-branded “Nasjonalnekromantisk Svart Metall” intentions on their long-gestating debut full-length ‘Nær Døden’. Formed by a couple of Norway’s more rabid orthodox black metal cheerleaders whose sound is largely fronted by the recognizable mark of Thor Erik Helgesen aka Grimesse aka Skuggeheim Norge and most commonly known as Infamroth. His more notable works include solo project Skuggeheim and better known Throne of Katarsis. The spirit that drove his previous bands likewise drive Myrkraverk but perhaps with greater variation. If you felt Throne of Katarsis closely resembled Darkthrone then with ‘Nær Døden’ you could add slight elements of Isengard and Storm along with raw black metal.

If you’re already familiar with Throne of Katarsis‘ discography some of this will feel like a distant relative and I felt like it had hints of ‘Helvete det iskalde morket’ but if seen through the noisy filter of Mayhem‘s ‘Deathcrush’ and some kind of psychedelic vacuum into hell (see: “Blåkvit”.) There is a distinct heir of Norwegian black metal’s first leaders of the second wave shoring the ship throughout, but it isn’t a fully-frozen, ear scraping mess of noise that you might expect. The drumming is perhaps the most diligently primal aspect and feels thumped out in an old winter cabin in the middle of the night. Yet for all of the pride felt in their messaging, Myrkaverk isn’t a bleak imitation of the past and rather a smart variation paying tribute where it is sees importance.

Without complete access to the projects history and some conflicting information online as to when it began, it seems Myrkraverk began as early as 2001 though the first EP they’d release ‘Nordvegen’ would be in 2009 and it’s style was brilliant in echoing a touch of early viking metal but also orthodox black metal with a touch of Norwegian insanity. There is even a sequel to it’s opening track “Nordvegen II” towards the end of ‘Nær Døden’. The style of that first 7″ are perhaps echoes of Taake‘s more ambitious early style, and in fact Hoest provides guest vocals on the album. Likewise some of Hoest’s brilliant guitar work must have influenced their 2011 EP ‘Nekroamanita Muscaria’ and though the 7″ is barely ten minutes of music, the title track is pure Norwegian mystification. With their early discography in mind ‘Nær Døden’ is greatly expanded beyond those singles and retains the psychedelic furor, increased folk metal elements, and Norwegian pride with more of their own signature.

The trance-inducing darkness of ‘Nær Døden’ ventures through hell and nature alike with guest speakers beyond Taake‘s Hoest with vocals from Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone and Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved. Cry “poser” all you want but I cannot pick them out of a line-up because each vocalist has changed their sound so much over the years beyond their pure black metal beginnings. It does add a bit of austerity to their orthodox black/folk project to insert legends into the midst but even without aging occult masters howling out blasphemies this would be a strong tribute to Norwegian black metal. The whole thing is a bit long, could clip off “Rekviem” and “NatasataN”, and I wanted the beautiful band logo a bit more visible on the cover. Small gripes for a redeeming 45 minutes of folk-tinged black metal philosophy.

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Artist Myrkraverk
Type Album
Released March 13, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on WTC Productions Bandcamp! Follow Myrkraverk on Facebook
Genres
Black Metal, Folk Metal

Closest to death. 4.0/5.0

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