Mork / Katedralen is an essential Black Metal listen

From The Abyss: 6 March 2021

Thomas Eriksen, the man behind Norwegian Black Metal act Mork, returns with his fifth studio full length ‘Katedralen’.

Mork was primarily a side-project created in 2004, but with the debut album ‘Isebakke’ released in 2013, it is considered substantially more than that now. They are now seen as one of Norway’s finest Black Metal acts of recent years.

Mork – Katedralen (Peaceville)

Release Date: 5 March 2021

Words: Jools Green

‘Katedralen’ follows on from last year’s EP ‘Pesta’ and whilst Thomas has “ventured ever further from the more primal early Darkthrone-based foundations, [he is] still fundamentally keeping the grim flame of the old school in it’s DNA”. The influence is still there, lurking deep within the albums construct and to get straight to the point, it is an impressive listen that is powerful, dynamic, hugely moving and engaging.

‘Katedralen’ is also a true personal work of intense spiritual catharsis from Thomas.

He told MetalTalk: “The path I have walked from the first album up to this current day has been much needed for me to really find myself and what Mork is. The album has everything I want in an album, grooves, harshness, grandiosity, sadness, beauty and power.

“No rules, other than to respond to what comes out of my mind and soul while creating.

“‘Katedralen’ [cathedral] is actually an old one I have had lying around since the early days of Mork. I always had a vision of a vast desolate cold and dead land, and a gigantic cathedral where lost souls are kept for all eternity. I remember fantasising it being a concept EP, I suppose much like ‘Det Svarte Juv’ was envisioned back in the day.

“However, that one did not end up as a concept album. ‘Katedralen’ is not a concept album either, but I see now that all the tracks tie neatly together after all.

“In the end all the lost souls end up at the base of the massive cathedral.”

Photo of the Mork album Katedralen

Three guest Appearances

‘Katedralen’ boasts three guest appearances. ‘Svartmalt‘ features Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone, Kampfar’s Dolk appears on ‘Fodt Til A Herske’ and Eero Pöyry of Doom masters Skepticism is on the final track ‘De Fortapte Sjelers Katedral’.

Thomas expanded on the significance of the special guests: “To be able to include Eero Pöyry on the album is a big deal for me, as it ties it all together with me discovering the darker and more extreme depths of Metal back in the beginning.

“At the same time I found Black Metal, I also stumbled into Funeral Doom, which also made a lasting impression on me. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of emptiness and hopelessness I got when listening to Skepticism for the first time.

“Since my vision of ‘Katedralen’ has to do with large and vast desolation and feelings, it is absolutely perfect having Eero putting his touch on this piece of my personal history and creation. I am forever thankful.

“It is a great honour to include yet again my good friend Nocturno Culto. The track we picked is just as fist-in-the-face enough to suit his contribution perfectly. It has become our duet of pessimistic Black Metal purity. A great man and a total legend.

“When Dolk and I got together to figure out which track to consider, I did not know really what to expect, since I have never worked with the man. I do know his great skills in Kampfar, obviously. But when he got down with it and did his thing on ‘Født Til Å Herske’, I was convinced instantly. His parts made the song. Genius.”

Powerful and emotional

My first impression of ‘Katedralen’ is just how powerful and emotional a listen it is and whilst Thomas gives a lot of credit to those guests who have performed on this release, the true credit goes to his own genius.

You can feel he has poured his soul into this work and on listening you can not help but be moved greatly by what you hear. This exudes emotion which streams out from both the vocals and the music to a point that, at times, is overwhelming in a very good and cathartic way and, for me, a true act of genius.

To be able to so clearly express so much in music and also to create in such a way, I could not tear myself away if I wanted to.

Needless to say, I have no favourite track. I just immersed myself in them all.

Beginning with the up-tempo driver ‘Dodsmarsjen‘, with its haunting opener and soul tearing scream, this heralds the arrival of the main body of the track, all of which oozes classic Black Metal excellence in the most engaging manner.

Photo of the band Mork

‘Svartmalt’ follows, a rousing driver with addictive riffs, haunting melody and acerbic tormented vocals. The dark ominous and stirring ‘Arv’ is punctuated with rugged cleans, while the unrelenting intensity of ‘Evig Intens Smerte’ which, even when the pace eases, still surrounds you with a dense sound, it completed with powerful pain infused vocals

The dark and reflective ‘Det Siste Gode I Meg’ has an engaging meld of emotive cleans and tortuous acerbic vocals and is followed by ‘Fodt Til A Herske’. This has an addictive mix of the ominous and the engaging, with heady spiralling riffs and a dirty drive, pounding drum work and punchy vocals which enter the realms of the deranged from the mid-point onwards. This makes a superbly powerful listen.

The raw, yet majestic, epic closer, the nine and a half minute ‘De Fortapte Sjelers Katedral’, is filled with haunting leadwork, hugely emotive vocals and a haunting mid-point drop-away. The second half keyboards add a very spiritual touch to the track.

‘Katedralen’ was performed and recorded by Eriksen at Likkjelleren Studio and mixed by both him and Freddy Holm at Kleiva Studio. Mastering was once more carried out by Jack Control at Enormous Door (Darkthrone).

The suitably stark artwork once again appears courtesy of French artist David Thiérrée. The album will be released on CD, gatefold black vinyl LP and digitally, through Peaceville.

Without a doubt this album is essential listening.

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