In granting one’s self the True Will, a ‘nirvana’ of sorts achieved through Crowley‘s Thelemic mysticism, the road is only long and complex at first glance. In realizing the true self and discovering one’s belonging as truly connected with nature and the universe, the (arguably) most key step is the death of one’s ego. The Night of Pan is a symbolic death and a willful suicide offered to Panphage, the ‘all-devouring godhead’. Performing these sorts of rituals or ‘magicks’ serves as a surrender of pre-conceived cultural and spiritual garbage in hopes of transformation of the self; To be at one with nature and the greater universe. In taking these concepts and removing ritual liberation, guidance towards respect for Earth, and instead empowering greater egos in ‘killing off’ the old ego everyone from Leary and Jung to Tolle have helped to encourage the opposite of Crowley‘s intention: Self-obsessed fools who serve manifest destiny. Laitila, Finland based atmospheric black metal duo Mørketida appear with some interest to those that instead follow Neo-Luciferian guidance with respect for Pan. That is to suggest it gives the impression (intentional or not) of spiritual music that recognizes the necessary existence of both good and evil, seeks preservation of the natural world, and cherishes science and the arts.
Downtempo and compositionally subtle, Mørketida compose a sort of psychedelic forward-marching black metal equally entranced by the stars and spitting fire into the night. Active as a duo since roughly 2009 when they started their first project Evil Rites the artists behind ‘Panphage Mysticism’ are without a doubt patiently meticulous as the lead-up for their debut has been some years coming. Artists that profess to be generally disconnected from the current and modern notions of black metal, and with no greater worship of it’s history, always concern me to some degree; Metal artists with no foot firmly planted in it’s fandom might appear self-conscious though, I understand the intention is to carefully control their art and let it speak for itself. That disconnection from any era of ‘black metal zeitgeist’ translates into a cold album that slowly thaws out of it’s transfixed state as it progresses.
The second half of ‘Panphage Mysticism’ starting with “Throne of Unseen” is where I first began to take note of the subtle, and not so subtle, details parsed throughout the album. Keyboards snake in quietly for effect and the pacing slows as Mørketida‘s warm bass presence thaws the remaining few tracks of their ice; The title track particularly surprises with a glowering, soulful bass solo towards it’s end. As small and unimportant as that sort of moment might seem in passing they do wonders in differentiating from obvious and less obvious influences. If there is any movement that must’ve inspired the duo’s black metal drive it had to have been Northern Sky Productions‘ ‘Suomesta Saatanalle’ (2008), a compilation of Finnish black metal bands (Cosmic Church, Blood Red Fog, Vritra) that served to breathe some life and ingenuity into Finnish atmospheric and depressive black metal at the time. I would not say that it is kin to albums like Cosmic Church‘s ‘Absoluutin lävistämä’ or Blood Red Fog‘s ‘Harvest’ but rather a modern contemporary that combines that local rhythmic and atmospheric influence with a style closer to Inquisition or Judas Iscariot.
My own personal arc with ‘Panphage Mysticism’ wafted from curiosity towards transfixion and then later a feeling of restlessness. That restlessness came from sitting through guitar work that is inconsistent between greatness and relatively standard movements; Nothing entirely uncommon for black metal but generally a sign of middling impressions for long term value. Mørketida‘s debut is a fantastic album that will resonate with many but only hold the lasting interest of a small fraction. This is generally the nature of trance-induction by way of composed music, that it eventually ends, and I would only challenge any black metal listener to savor the mystifying torpor of ‘Panphage Mysticism’ while it lasts.
Into the depths of cosmic secrets. 3.5/5.0
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