Although highly unfriendly to the lazy typing of English reviewers, Mörkö’s ‘Itsenänimeävä’ is also challenging in exactly the way you want it to be. From start to finish, this is an uncompromising, unsettling album that really forces the listener to reconceptualise what “black metal” means to them.

Right from the start, you know this won’t be your usual trip down the alleys of so-called primitive metal. ‘Ruumis Loi Itsensä Omaksi Kuvakseen’ kicks things off with a spoken-word passage, with a slight natural growl to the vocals, before a sliding bassline and gritty, bitter guitars swirl into the picture like corrupt winds. The music here is deeply hypnotic and repetitive yet fearfully intense, like a nightmare you can’t awaken from. Mörkö are hugely adept at layering their music. The visceral booming tom patterns and sinister speech serve as the front vanguard of the low end, with sinuous, minimal basslines providing a shadow lurking behind them. Without having any idea what the vocals are on about, I can still gauge the tone amid feedback and clattering riffs as completely and utterly morbid. Something in the very essence of intonation, unfettered by the words’ meaning, just oozes bleakness. It’s all rather avant-garde, but not in the “pretentious wanker” sense. Instead of annoyance, you feel your ears and brain being pushed and pulled and reconfigured in an attempt to really get what is going on here, and whether anyone can ever be entirely successful is up for debate, as the tempos and soundscapes morph and deliquesce in bizarre, otherworldly ways both brutal and languidly morbid. The frenetic squalls of feedback and scrabbling guitars is perhaps a little more de rigeur in the genre, and it fades out and back into ‘Alhainen Liejukoira’, which initially does sound like a rather avant-garde yet recognisably black metal with its speed-picked, atonal riffs and rapid, tinny percussion. Then, the vocals start. Choral vocals. Disharmonious, discordant, yet singular in their intent. Beautifully, cruelly devised and delivered with some utter bestial monstrosity that comes from somewhere even deeper than the very marrow of the bone and the redness of blood. My boyfriend told me a story about his first experience of early Darkthrone, and how he felt genuinely pitched out of the realms of his experience of what music is, and what “fucked up” sounds like. Yes. This is it.

Surging into malevolent, slowly fluctuating basslines and waltzing drums from this muted cacophony from the monastery of the ulterior into minimalistic low-end fear and back again, this track plays out like the most fearful bad dream you have ever experienced. Moments of strummed, soft, almost jazz-like guitar tones dominate the latter passages, with the chilling shadow of the speed-picked opening riff playing through like the shadow of Black Shuck at winter crossroads.

Once again, this tone segues into the almost fourteen-minute ‘Kosmoksen Huhmareessa’, as it opens with an elegant, analogue-glacial waltz from the otherworld into a section similar to the opening track. Rolling toms and a guttural tremolo guitar accompany the spoken-word invocations of dread that the vocal conjure from somewhere beyond the human vocal chords. This climactic chaos mounts and mounts, until the moment it simply ceases to be. From this cathartic moment, the listener is immersed into the mesmeric, dreamlike midsection-finale. One single riff, barely a riff at all. The forlorn ghost of a much greater, much fiercer force. Frost-cold teeth and barbed wire in materials beyond the ken of our senses encircle this riff, as it builds and dips in intensity, with subtle modulations of distortion and layering. It does drag on for a while (my sole gripe concerning this record), but if you were to listen to this at night alone, it could cause hallucinations and extrasensory voyages in and as of itself. Then the finale ‘Nesteen Luo’ brings us back to the visceral. Mirroring ‘Alhainen Liejukoira’ in its choral vocals, ‘Nesteen Luo’ however includes a much more melodic feel, with its twanging, mutant bass bringing a certain groove to the track that almost defies comprehension, but is undeniably there. Then, out of nowhere comes a juddering leap into what could almost be a heavy metal breakdown via the route of avant-garde black metal, with discords and ever-so-slightly off-kilter rhythms delivered in a slamming, confrontational manner. In some ways, this is the most “accessible” track on the album, despite both the hellish choral vocals and the spoken-word horrors. And yet even here, the album is challenging your own expectations. Shifting from the recognisable to the utterly unknown to the contextually-familiar without a second’s faltering, this track keeps up the high standards set by this album and brings them to a slow, evil-sounding conclusion that leaves you utterly shellshocked.

I won’t lie. ‘Itsensänimeävä’ is difficult. Very difficult. You won’t be playing it to family and friends, or to serenade lovers, or to feel good about things. But you will play it. And you will listen. Again and again and again. And each time, you’ll find new shades and dimensions in it. Shades and dimensions that really make you reconsider what music means, and what human creativity is capable of.

[9] by Katie Haley-Halinski

Credits to:

  • Destructive Music - http://destructive-music.com/ ; https://www.facebook.com/DestructiveMusic

Mörkö - http://morkomusic.bandcamp.com/

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