To the uninitiated, Mörk Gryning starts off their latest album as just another Swedish black metal outfit: evil, moody and just a bit faster, harder and more violent than can be expected from Norwegian counterparts – but not quite as necro as the usual Finnish fare. And that’s all very well for a first impression, but less than a minute into “Fältherren” (album opener, “The Depths of Chinnereth” hardly counts, being a short instrumental introduction) this perception fades like morning mist.
Sure, the virulence of Marduk and unapologetic darkness of Watain may be poking through, but there’s far too much attention given to melody to make this record, Hinsides Vrede, deserving of such a throwaway comparison. If you really had to, you could find some common ground in the riff-based songwriting to Dark Funeral and at a stretch, some folk influences à la Falconer, but that’s probably where the Swedish stereotyping ends.
The blasting, evolving “Fältherren” is very much a ‘warlord’ on the rampage.
No, Mörk Gryning is very much its own beast and Hinisides Vrede a unique offering. Let’s not forget that this is a band whose founder disbanded the group in 2005 (before the release of their self-titled fifth record) in consequence of his own disillusion with extreme metal; and whose unexpected return to black metal with a live show at Party San in 2017 brought their name back to aficionados’ lips. Hinsides Vrede will, unfortunately, be hard-pressed to maintain this uncompromising vision for Season of Mist. While Goth Gorgon and Draakh Kimera may have written the album with the best of black metal intentions, these do get lost amidst over-technical arrangements and spotless, crystalline production that combine to take off the malevolent, blackened edge.
Apart from this, there is a lot to celebrate: varied, exciting and evolving, Hinsides Vrede is an accurate appellation, as ‘otherworldly wrath’ shines through in equal parts destructive force and evocative atmosphere, punctuated by regular instrumental breathing spaces (“Hinsides”; “For Those Departed”; and “On the Elysian Fields”). Under detailed scrutiny, the effect may be lost, but as an overall impression, Hinsides Vrede is as much a furious sacrifice to past glories as a contemporary reinterpretation of what defines melodic black metal.
“Infernal” doesn’t fall prey to this: the razor-sharp riffs are honed to frightening edge by the quality production work.
So, it’s a strong start for Mörk Gryning, with riff after riff pounding home the corpsepainted message, but Hinsides Vrede loses steam by the time “The Night” comes around. The true winner makes you work, though: coming in at second to last, “Black Spirit” (featuring some delightful clean feminine vocal work) is well worth the wait, easily dispelling the formulaic cobwebs of the middle section of the album.
Hinsides Vrede Track Listing:
1. The Depths of Chinnereth
3. Existence in a Dream
5. A Glimpse of the Sky
7. The Night
8. Sleeping in the Embers
9. For Those Departed
10. Without Crown
11. Black Spirit
12. On the Elysian Fields
Run Time: 35:20
Release Date: October 23, 2020
Record Label: Season of Mist