When you have excitedly awaited a release as intensely as we have with «Mørkere», there’s always a possibility that you build it up so much in your own head that the end result is a disappointing one. Even when that’s not the case, it rarely exceeds expectations. Dold Vorde Ens Navn‘s debut «Mørkere» is one of those rare cases. A brilliant record, easily one of this year’s finest when it comes to black metal or metal in general.
Dold Vorde Ens Navn – «Mørkere» | Prophecy Productions / Lupus Lounge
Given the quartet’s previous individual endeavours, it is interesting to first look at «Mørkere» as detached from that storied past as possible. Not that we’ll ignore its general context, but let us for a moment assume this was released by four anonymous individuals in this year of 2021. A few things spring to mind immediately. One, that it defies a straightforward temporal categorisation. Sure, it has a modern enough production, but it eschews trends of overcompression, of walls of sound, of occult orthodoxies, shoegazy, and whatever else has been overdone in the last few years. Not only that, no cascadian leanings or über rawnesses or simple 90s worshipping are here to be found. That said, «Mørkere»’s roots are clearly firmly in the latter decade, not amidst the parts of it that were relentlessly emulated afterwards, but those idiosyncratic sources that already stood apart back then. Granted, if we stop our little death-of-the-author exercise for a moment we’re forced to concede that two of the authors of this record were among those iconoclastic musicians who gave us «Bergtatt», «Written In Waters», and «666 International». But to simply refer to the past works would miss the point, that regardless of authorship, «Mørkere» might start there but is far from exhausted by those references.
Looking at the music in more detail, we start our analysis with the rhythmic section, whose role is essentially foundational and thus in contrast with artists such as Alkerdeel or Virus, where the bass in particular has a much more clear voice. That said, it is of extreme effectiveness and remarkably versatile, being able to brilliantly blast away in «Lognens Abstinenser», hold the mid-tempo to perfection in «Determinismens Paradoks», stand alongside orchestrations in «Er Det Maneskinn», or complement acoustic arrangements in «Syke Hjerter». At the end of the day, the foundational role is exactly what you need for an album such as this one, whose main guiding forces are found in the guitar and the vocals.
Concerning the guitars, they follow mostly a torrential approach, with riffs following one another with little respite, and are characterised by a strong emphasis on melody. There are beautiful details aplenty, such as the “Nattens Madrigalesque” lick just before the mid-tempo section of album opener «Jeg Vil Ha Det Morkere», the gorgeous epic start of «Lognens Abstinenser», and the acoustic beginnings of «Det Falt Et Lys I Min Morke Krok», almost as if Ulver’s early days were being deconstructed before our very eyes in that trio. Other highlights include the layered electro acoustic mid-tempo section of «Arvesynden» as well as its blistering finale, and the restrained distortion of the otherwise quite orchestral «Er Det Maneskinn». Finally, those fucking gorgeous vocals with their rather unique pacing and constantly varying tone, as evocative as anything you’ll ever hear within black metal but not in that ‘let’s do clean vocals to show how pretty it can be’ kind of way, more so in a enchanting storytelling alongside the instrumental of which we cannot conceive ever getting enough of.
At the end of the day, it’s not like any of this is really that surprising. Yes, the drumming is great, but Myrvoll has recently joined Dødheimsgard and Ved Buens Ende, of course he’s going to be fantastic at his job, whereas bassist Cerberus “just” recorded «Satanic Art» in 1998. With Haavard‘s guitars it’s more of a question of confirming what «Gjengangere i hjertets mørke» suggested, that the man who played guitars on that legendary Ulver trilogy still has all the riff-writing skills in the world. With Vicotnik‘s vocals, they were brilliant back in the «Written In Waters» days and have dramatically improved since then, as the masterpiece «A Umbra Omega» had shown or the sheer fact that he has been doing vocals for fucking Strid for over ten years. Dold Vorde Ens Navn might be the quartet’s newest adventure and one that certainly alludes to their past body of work, but if the full-length debut «Mørkere» is anything to go by, one which’ll have its own identity and be as brilliant as all the others.
«Mørkere» is set for release on November 12 via Lupus Lounge | Propechy Productions on cd, digital, and vinyl formats. Pre-orders can be found here.