Despite being entirely in the dark when it comes to Bavarian black metal duo Mavorim‘s lyrical musings and greater personal banners beyond “German black metal”, which they represent well, it’d never felt like language was any true barrier to the overtly enjoyable and inspired gallop of their greater majestic steed. Their fourth full-length album arrives with absolute assurance at their backs, three brilliant records having preceded it with escalating skill in terms of performance and songcraft to the point that a steady leap into greater strength was all but implied. Dark and heinous as it’d appear at face value ‘Ab Amitia Pulsae‘ is a show of majestic fortitude as much as it is a grotesque beast, a surprisingly catchier and bigger statement from the band, too, which they’ve girded with all manner of chorale, keyboard, and golden folken melody. It ends up being a characterizing release for the band and a full listen that impresses at each and every turn.
Mavorim formed circa 2014 by way of musician Baptist, who’d initially gone by P.H. until the project began a cycle of regular public releases ~2018. Even at the earliest demo stages the artist presented full-length recordings, complete thoughts which were entirely performed and recorded as a solo effort. This’d suggested years of development, training and ideation for the sake of how well written and cleanly performed those releases had been including the ‘Heimkehr‘ demo, which was recorded in 2014 and released in 2016, already showing most of the hallmarks of songcraft which still define the artist today. There’d be no official record of what Mavorim had recorded between 2016 and 2017 until more recently when a four demo box set provided roughly three hours of context for what the artist had explored prior to the surprisingly effective ‘der König ist tot‘ mLP from early 2018. Without this context in hand and no digital option available I’d at least offer the observation that pagan black metal as it aligns with mid-90’s German black metal and the more chivalric side of the sub-genre factored into the band’s formative development ’til the expressly professional, unsurprisingly catchy debut full-length ‘Silent Leges Inter Arma‘ (2018). What they’d excelled at then and now is sturdily built and memorable melody alongside a knack for engaging yet darkly lit songcraft, a feat warranting many comparisons but a sound/style developed to such a personal level that the act of direct comparison feels unwarranted outside of Baptist‘s own projects (see: Eisenkult, Atronos) all of which he’d suggest are unrelated.
While that debut built a melodious, sentimental mid-paced ideal with lead guitar driven melodies and smartly varied pacing it’d taken me some time to warm up to Mavorim‘s output ’til the duo of their second full-length ‘Axis Mundi‘ (2020) and split with Ad Mortem surprised me with the melodic values of the band as I’d praised their work: “It’ll be those melodious intentions that draw fans in first, especially when certain pieces include keyboard melodies to distinguish their grand rhythms such as opener “Aus Asche auferstanden”. No two songs are too alike here and Mavorim pull from a vast array of influences that aren’t limited to the already broad and fruitful history of German black metal.” It’d been a bit of a surprise to learn that some of the synth elements were more or less created on a whim to fit the moment since these sorts of moments threaten to become a big part of his signature beyond ‘Non Omnis Moriar‘ (2021). That third LP was the breakthrough, the triumphal surge to kick through the gloom of earlier recordings and begin to present rousing, incensed black metal somewhere between the more glowing melodicism of Lunar Aurora and the austere, folken ride of Horn (Deu) in recent years. This was the point in time (late 2021) where I’d figured it best to take this band seriously, not for their persistence but rather output that’d begun to build its legacy for its songs above all else.
The question I’d been left with after being a bit overwhelmed with the immensity of Eisenkult‘s third full-length album earlier this year, an exuberant and tunefully charged record to say the least, was some concern that Mavorim might not ring as intense with that level of effort in mind, I’d become a fan of both groups. It wasn’t an important concern after all as ‘Ab Amitia Pulsae‘ doesn’t find the artist competing with himself so much as developing a stronger voice within each release he’d pen. In fact I’d ventured into the discography of the band in such detail to hopefully encourage folks to witness the amplification of conviction behind Baptist‘s work with each successive release. While I’d understand if one might peck away with preference for the raw sounds of Mavorim‘s demo period (especially the 2017 tapes) but there is no question the bar is set higher for the increasingly rare memorable black metal song within the escalating quality of his work. The high standard for aggression and melodicism in concert herein is strong enough but thriving production values bring a clear, crisp and hateful voice which is well above-average per nowadays standards. They’ve wasted no time making this point on their own as “Ein Zerrbild aller Lieden” chainsaws its way through the brush, riling my mind awake with it’s charged shout-along bierhaus ~2:30 minutes in. It didn’t surprise me in the least that they’d taken the quickest and most effective route to that high because it sets strong precedence for what comes next, a set of 4-6 minute black metal songs with melodically charged and folken spiritus in hand.
Keyboard rich songs, hundred man chorales, inspired lead guitar melodies and an austere black metal voice in aggressive throng should naturally turn the ear towards a few very different worlds, one might hear deeper nodules of early Falkenbach in the middle of “Was des Lebens nicht wert” (see also: “Die andere Seite deines Traumes”) and perhaps even the more refined side of Absurd circa ‘Totenlieder‘ on other parts of the album if you know where to look, the bigger point to make is that Mavorim comes to represent a broader picture of specifically German pagan black metal on this record even if they don’t fully commit to a prescribed sound or spiritism. “Bis nur noch Knochen übrig bleibt” has a bit of everything I’d suggested, from its glowingly hymnal synths to its bass driven growl-along finale all of it should find the listener engaged unless the language is too much of a mystery to plainly enjoy for its melodic value and spectacle. For my taste, and perhaps because a simple motif blown out of proportion is always effective on my part, “Zerinne im Nichts” ends up being the big song here, the one to crown the experience in its mystic wreath alongside the more immersive push of “Die andere Seite deines Traumes” with its ear-catching leads.
The appeal of ‘Ab Amitia Pulsae‘ is clear enough from the start and restated within each song they’ve set here, memorable black metal songs which step apart from the usual cloying melodic maudlin-isms of today and strike at it with some appreciable vigor. While I am not willing to learn the German language to better understand their prose here I’d just as well understood and appreciated the unmistakable fire behind their work which may very well begin to sound more accessible and catchy than some black metal fans will be willing to engage. From my point of view Mavorim have certainly put out several good albums but this is the one that fully strikes upon greatness and as such it comes with a high recommendation.
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