Mhorgl - Antinomian
Black Metal
8 songs (36:47)
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Tyler

I don’t know a whole lot about Western Australia, but it seems like one of the most unlikely places for black metal to procreate imaginable. Google up some images of the area, and you’ll probably see a lot of sand, wild grasses, rocky outcroppings, sparse, brambly vegetation, kangaroos, and so forth. That seems to be quite a contrast from the usual imagery associated with black metal: dark forests, ravens, misty vales, snowy mountains, swords, armor, corpse paint, and other such objects of grimness and mystique. And yet, in the land of my ancestors, black metal has found a way to exist through Mhorgl, a four-piece blackened oddity from Perth featuring Sam Moretta on vocals, Robert Thorpe on guitar, Louis Rando on drums, and James Campbell on bass.

In a press release I received regarding the band’s second full-length album Antinomian, the band’s sounds was descrived as “raw Scandinavian influenced black metal”, and mentioned Darkthrone no less than three times. Hell, there is even a track on the album called Necrohatred (A Tribute to Darkthrone) ; needless to say, this band likes Darkthrone a whole lot, and they aren’t afraid to show it. Luckily, the band avoids sounding like so many other bands trying to rip off the Norwegian sound by adding their own two-headed twist to the familiar formula. On one hand, you have a quality of production rarely heard in the genre. On the other, you have a sort of schizophrenic dissonance that makes for a startlingly atonal assault. You still have blast beats, you still have tremolo, and the spot on Nocturno Culto impressions, but the melodies are so incredibly random and nonsensical that a listener with a little patience may dismiss it as sloppy arranging or poor musical sense. Really though, it works quite well, and from front to back, random guitar squeals and nearly awkward solos and tremolo runs make Antinomian a tough album to get comfortable to.

This inclusion of musical dissonance avoids coming of as a pretentious attempt at being “avant-garde” or quasi-post metal or something, and instead simply feels like a fresh, bat-shit crazy-fied take on traditional black metal. There are a few passages of eerie melody with some typical minor key arpeggio stuff and some odd, jazzy bass lines, but these are typically short-lived and transition suddenly (and somewhat awkwardly) to yet another barrage of blast beats, frenetic tremolo, and Culto growls. This leads me to one of my negative points: the band rarely sticks with a riff or an idea for much more than a few seconds, and there are few riffs that could be identified as “that” riff in each respective song. If you listen to black metal, you probably know what I am talking about. Think about some black metal standards: I Am the Black Wizards, Dunkelheit, Transilvanian Hunger, Freezing Moon, Mother North. When thinking of each of these songs, there is often a theme that instantly comes to mind, one riff or one harmony that repeats itself throughout the song and is an integral part of that song’s classic identity. At this point in Mhorgl’s career, unfortunately, they haven’t quite mastered this critical element of their idols in the original Norwegian Black Metal scene.

That is not to say, of course, that there isn’t some high–quality riffage on Antinomian; in fact, the music is rarely (if ever) uninteresting, and there are certainly some memorable moments that tap into the epic melancholy of bands like Emperor and, of course, Darkthrone. There were a few moments that, in their truly crazed peculiarity, forced me to grin in satisfaction. If Mhorgl can hone their musical insanity into a sound that is as dissonant as it is memorable, they will truly become a force to reckon with in the underground. The jarring cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s classic tune Mr. Crowley that closes the album suggests that the band may be well on there way, and I hope that this album finds its way onto the desks of Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto and Fenriz; I think they would be quite pleased with this.

Killing Songs :
Nocturnal Blasphemy, Iron Clad Destruction, Essence of Evil, Necrohatred (A Tribute to Darkthrone), Mr. Crowley
Tyler quoted 74 / 100
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