Mhorgl - _Antinomian_
(The Execution Kollective, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (7 out of 10)
Much has been made lately about black metal's various mut(il)ations. Set a BM-infected iPod to shuffle and you might get an earful of Deathspell Omega, Wolves in the Throne Room, Absentia Lunae, and Xasthur -- all spawned by the northern darkness, none sharing much beyond a few basic sonic similarities. One band's call to worship is another band's call to a humane farming commune. When brutal speed can blur so easily into hypnotic throb, the tremolo-blast attack seems to be a perfect launching point for all manner of compositionally rich musical adventures. Mhorgl are having none of it. These Aussies will not mope nor plant trees nor call forth a mystical twelfth-dimensional vortex with their instruments. Instead, like the old masters Venom and Darkthrone before them, Mhorgl seek to rock you most hatefully.

Opener "Nocturnal Blasphemy" tommy-guns down your soul with a bullet-belted barrage of drum fills, throat-ripping croaks, and squealing guitars that occasionally lift solo material straight out of the hard rock milieu. Some inventive melodic choices strewn across the terrific din keep tracks like "Kiss of Midnight" and "The Paean of Hangatyr" afloat. "Subterranean Assault Beast" rides on a bass line that is more audible and interesting than almost anywhere else on the album; it's a welcome diversion from the near-constant frenetic picking on Mhorgl's favorite haunted house chords. Most songs, like "Essence of Evil", fully embrace the nail-spiked ethos of black metal, though there are moments ("Iron Clad Destruction") when the band forsake that dim stable for the greener pastures usually reserved for trad metal and other heavy music forerunners.

It's this roots-mining tribute quality to the album that ultimately marks _Antinomian_ as cannon fodder rather than cavalry in Satan's mighty host. "Necrohatred" is subtitled "A Tribute to Darkthrone", and the subject of adulation in the penultimate "Mr. Crowley" is self-evident, even going so far as to use the title itself as a repeated lyrical invocation. The sound espoused here is adequately brutal and drenched in darkness, but often feels like an exercise in expectations. If you think that the whole BM scene has only gotten fruitier over the last decade, though, then suit up. Mhorgl have a pike and some leather armor just for you. Just make sure to practice up on your cannonball dodging.


(article published 25/2/2011)

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