Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mhorgl - Antinomian (2010)

Australia has produced an abnormally large amount of quality black metal in the last few years, and if Antinomian is an indicator, the scene there just got a whole lot stronger. I've not experienced their debut The Sacrificial Flame from 2007, but Mhorgl's sophomore is an effort ripe with ideas, a transfusion of traditional hyper black metal with threads of lavish discord that creates an epileptic atmosphere of harried chaos. Yet, despite the constant mile a second onslaught of fresh notation and brain bending, they aren't above breaking out into some slower or accessible sequence to hook any listener who might stray from their standard dialog. Antinomian is not quite so insane as something like Deathspell Omega's Paracletus or Gorguts Obscura, but it's certainly howling up the same margin of lunacy.

"Nocturnal Blasphemy" opens with terrifying blast work and crisp streams of frenzied picking, but it's not until the added melodies near the bridge that the Australians start to play their real hand, snaking you into a limbo of splintered surreality. Other tracks like "Kiss of Midnight" and "Subterranean Assault Beast" waste no time in introducing their victims to the dynamic shifts, the latter hurling some provocative, bad-ass grooves into its choppy, drum driven hysteria. There's also a cool, mid-paced black rocker called "Necrohatred (A Tribute to Darkthrone)", which doesn't necessary sound like the Norse band, but tones the rampage down just a fraction from its usual complexity. "Essence of Evil" taunts you with eerie pianos, fuzzy bass and clean notes before it hyperventilates you full of needle holes, and "The Paean of Hangatyr" and "Iron Clad Destruction" both connect to the memory through more traditional, incredibly memorable black metal guitar lines.

What truly takes one by surprise here is the cover of Ozzy's "Mr. Crowley", which is not played close to the hilt, but spazzified beyond belief into a mesmeric scatterbrained mindfuck that will leave your jaws agape. Perhaps Mhorgl is indulging themselves here a little, perhaps flexing their lack of sanity too boldly, but it is nevertheless a fascinating use of the source material and without the lyrics I would have absolutely no idea what it was originally. It fits in all too well to the band's wealth of kinetic excess, and cleverly rounds out the 37 minutes of bewilderment. A few more things to add. I have no idea how the word Mhorgl is pronounced. I would not listen to this album if I were taking any powerful medication. Lastly, I am terrified of a future in which music like this has become a control group for further abstraction. But sign me up for the test group.

Verdict: Win [8.5/10]

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