Mylingar – Döda Själar (2019) REVIEW

Does an equal and opposite reaction exist for those who’d bear down upon dissonance with such a fury that they’d void themselves of musical ambition? Perhaps there is no path forward or backward that couldn’t entail destruction. Is there any real consequence for the seemingly unconsidered direction an artist takes when so feverishly creating a downward spiral for the sake of anonymous chaotic form when this darkening act of black and death metal music roars and blasts like an acid tempest upon the sinkhole, the listener? Is there a bottom to that pit where vitriolic ruin and acerbic technique pool? If it were somehow still 2016 and this untouched and unknown presence of Swedish anonymity, Mylingar, had seen no evolution beyond their ‘Döda Vägar’ EP I would consider them a sweltering plume of sulphur that’d mark a chasm cracked open towards the finality of whatever Hell you’d believe in. Embalmed, buried, and resurrected in the space of three years the dead ways, dead dreams, and now dead souls of Mylingar are without consequence by design; ‘Döda Själar’ is a free swipe of entropy by the hand of unnamed misanthrope(s) who now appear crazed in their coldly snapping abrasion. Trading in the muscular collapse of ‘Döda Drömmar’ (2018) for an ever-expanding pool of bone melting sourness ‘Döda Själar’ presents itself as a fall from a high place into disarray, a truly painful and challenging descent that is ever without an endpoint in sight.

The room for speculation is vast and unconquerable torpor, it beguiles and stymies my own thirsty-assed quest for trivia and knowledge of the supposed creators. I am almost certain there are two songwriters involved but one main founder’s vision for Mylingar. Over the last couple of years the vocal presence either shows great range or exists to pull from a collective of musicians rather than a defined group being director and co-conspirator. What compounds this pointless bit of speculation on my part solely stems from the sense that all music Mylingar presents appears written in a mental vacuum driven by the inspired tonality of the guitarist(s); Each full-length is of one mind, to the point that each piece appears almost designed to forego embellishment. Is their music so outrageous, though? You’ve likely heard early Portal, Altarage, as well as certain moods from Abyssal or Antediluvian so, the ‘death metal’ side of dissonant extremity superimposed upon black metal structures should actually feel entirely comfortable. This is where Mylingar surprise in a less than subtle way as they shirk most any sense of formal death metal structure and retain only some aesthetic and atmospheric values. When faced with ‘Döda Själar’ it’d make more sense to consider a group such as Thantifaxath or the most dissonant heaviness Krallice had ever managed rather than any death metal attuned artist.

Deciding upon the value of an ‘avant-garde’ work that employs a cadence akin to improvisational movements, such as those of Plebian Grandstand, is particularly difficult when faced with writing that constantly skirts the easy-access memory of the brain by spacing repetition in fairly wide swaths. This means you might get a notion of what Mylingar are doing for twenty spins before you’re absolutely sure of what they’ll do next but you might even want to leave a track on repeat if it hits you, to closer inspect the depth (or lack thereof) each piece brings. I wouldn’t say that I’m a junkie for being surprised by an album I could never anticipate but, there is some masochistic joy in becoming disoriented by abrasive and enthusiastically performed chaos. The choice as I see it is to either give thyself to the moment or refuse to stay liquid and perish within the blades of the Mylingar blender. I let go, and repeatedly so, until I found the value was almost entirely in the moment rather than the greater arc of the piece. A hypnotic tonal expansion hooks when things become psychedelic but, for all of my talk of avant-garde and improvisational works ‘Döda Själar’ manages to be a linear jog downhill.

There is something to be said for a hot-ass guitar tone and here a sea of different tones creates a cold, ancient feeling of dread. Distortion with a wah pedal in the closed position and the bridge pickup isolated is the closest I’d ever come to the ‘leading’ rhythm presence that defines Mylingar‘s sound and I only fumble my way through that description because it is a bulbous and distinct sound that is a major differentiation from the more modern downtuned tones employed by the otherwise comparable Altarage. Though it is just one aspect that creates the ‘voice’ of the experience that guitar tone and how they deftly warp it with wild progressions and crazed techniques throughout the album did eventually become the main motivation to continue listening to ‘Döda Själar’ despite how incredibly bleak the album becomes as it ends.

It will sound trite on my part in hindsight, I’m sure, but the lack of consequence (read: contrasting elements) for the unimpeded chaotic progression of Mylingar‘s discography started as a glorious bout of torturous rupture and never developed dimension beyond the point of spectacle and performance. “Offret” is an excellent example of a song that appears in mid-sentence at any given point where the guitar performance and impressively strained vocals are pure chaos magick but they never quite hit a moment of ‘payoff’ for all of the distemper they’d create. I’m not disappointed by the most challenging aspects of ‘Döda Själar’ but the inhuman, impersonal roar of it all would soak in easier with some handholds to grasp as the mind navigates the spacious clangor of the production and the concrete scraped guitar attack.

What salvages the sheer pain of the ritual? The drugged swerves Mylingar takes (see: “Obalansen”, “Bländningen”) are too rare as blurred highlights among the muddy stew of ‘Döda Själar’ but they make the experience for my taste and help to pull away from my view of the record as a ‘stream of consciousness’ type of release. Even if I couldn’t see the forest for the trees as this record presented itself in bare and truly stunning ambition it has held up reasonably well to repeated listening though I’d generally prefer the more crawling collapse of ‘Döda Drömmar’ by a small margin. At the very least you’ve not gotten the same album twice and this is for sure a worthy bout of change. This release will not likely stick within my own mind for long without some upkeep but my own personal ‘middling score’ for the longevity of its contents doesn’t affect my high recommendation for the full listen. It will not ever attempt to endear you, the listener, and in some sense that alone is worthy as a self-expanding, deleterious experience.

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Artist Mylingar
Type Album
Released August 2nd, 2019
BUY & LISTEN on 20 Buck Spin [North America | CD, LP]

BUY & LISTEN on Mylingar’s Bandcamp [Digital]

BUY from Amor Fati Productions [Europe, CD/LP]

Follow Mylingar on Facebook
Genre Avant-Garde Black/Death Metal

Motvilligt ljus i det vita rummet. 4.0/5.0

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