I’m sure most readers are ready to be done with 2016, both in metal and non-metal terms. We’ve all fried our ears piecing together our “album of the year” lists, and exhausted our minds with endless retrospectives and think-pieces. A lot of us feel pretty comfortable with what we’ve heard and are ready to see what loud, dark and abrasive music awaits us in 2017. But just bear with me for a little bit. There’s one last album black metal fans should make room for this year.
Murg is a black metal band from Bergslagen, Sweden. In our super-decentralized and even balkanized metal world, you may be wondering “what do you mean by black metal, in this case?” To put it bluntly, Murg is pure, classic, straightforward 2nd-wave black metal. And they play it brilliantly, with excellent riffs, compelling song structures and perfectly screamed vocals. In 2015, they put out an aggressive and engaging debut album with Varg & Björn. Now in 2016, this little-known but extremely promising Swedish act is ready to present Gudatall to the world:
While the band is definitely hard at work crafting their own take on Scandinavian black metal, they leave some noticeable traces of influence behind. The riffing style is a lot like that of Gorgoroth and Taake, as is the vocal style, with melodies that harken to the best elements of European Romanticism that’s always been the genre’s forte. Check out “Midnattsmässan” to hear what I’m talking about there. Though I can’t help but think of Finnish act Horna or fellow Swedes Blodsrit when listening to songs like “Vargens ständiga vakan” and “Den siste i brödraskapet.” There’s even some very slight shades of atmospheric black metal there too, in vein of a Blut Aus Nord or Winterfylleth. In terms of the modern black metal scene, they strike me as a more atmospheric variant of what’s going on in the Nidrosian scene in Norway (e.g. Celestial Bloodshed, Vemod and One Tail, One Head).
Where should they should stand in your listening? Well, if you’re anything like me, you always look forward to hearing a new take on the orthodox black metal sound. Not because you’re afraid of “branching out, maaan,” but because you love solid black metal. And that’s what you’ll get here in glorious fashion: mournful yet empowering, harsh yet soaring, full of grit and darkness yet lacking in any blemishes whatsoever.