Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Guiding Light From a Black Flame

Release: 'Black Illumination' (2009)

Ireland’s black metal output is interesting to watch, and due to the currently limited number of quality acts, thankfully easy to follow. However, it is perhaps disappointing that Ireland may never boast the level of quality black metal output that the likes of Sweden can muster.

One could argue that this is due to population, geography and/or the country’s affinity with the genre but, rather, it seems due to attitude, or a lack thereof. Despite Ireland’s bloody and definitely miserable history, coupled with a generally depressive, alcoholic air, its metal ilk seem to have never unanimously embraced real black metal.

Though far from unknown, Myrkr strikes sporadically from the greatest depths of Ireland’s “underground” and continuously levels audiences with a quality matched only by the intentionally reclusive Rebirth of Nefast, whose mastermind, Wann, lends his vocal talents to 'Black Illumination'. Wann adds an element of the unreal to Myrkr, giving some songs an almost ecclesiastical quality and teases with possible hints at the majesty that would dominate a Rebirth of Nefast full-length when one is finally seen.

Extensive (but never excessive) layering sees the upfront, cold sound of previous recordings pushed back slightly, allowing the album to comfortably tinker with dense and murky atmospherics. Even further under this blanket of twisting soundscapes, haunting chants and choral work are just audible, more evidence of Wann’s input and indelible mark on this fine recording.

Myrkr’s Gast is enviably comfortable behind a multitude of instruments and improves with every wave of a plectrum or snap of a drum kit. Most notable here is the ever-improving percussion which possesses a fitting “stripped-back” or essential approach, adding to the album’s tangible sense of decay and desperation, a constant clawing at dark, invisible, slick walls. ‘Black Illumination’ presents an endless sense of the ominous, a constantly flowing, almost ocean-like lulling sound with a truly hypnotic quality. It is introspective, knowingly obscure and a challenging and intricate listen; a magnum opus in every sense.

Far from simply an Irish black metal essential, it is plainly essential. Myrkr’s output is a paean to passion and an appreciation of black metal that resolutely goes above and beyond the call of duty time and time again. When 'Black Illumination' ceases, there is a feeling of an other-worldly experience cut short, a journey to ebony realms abruptly terminated.

Rating: 90%

Originally uploaded under the username 'torchia' to, 13 September, 2009.


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