Udåd comes from a well-documented urge within black metal, to retain a respect for the genre’s essential components. As the new project from one Thomas Eriksen, the mastermind behind Norwegian trve kvlters Mork, this project seeks to reverse whatever progression Mork has experienced. Udåd leaves all pleasantry at the door. This is black metal at its most unfiltered, theatrical, and, most importantly, emotional. This self-titled debut highlights the way black metal can channel real feelings within caustic machinations.

Norwegian lineage notwithstanding, the opening cut “Den Evindelige Ende” sets a mood more akin to French Black Legions projects like Mütiilation or Aäkon Këëtrëh. If the more atmospheric leanings of Mork‘s 2023 album Dypet seemed a bit too nice on the ears, Udåd starts things off with three minutes of dismal guitar loops that sound particularly lo-fi. Even by black metal standards, this stuff is raw. And yet, Eriksen‘s ear for mood and harmonic tension remains intact. Within self-imposed limitations, it’s more important than ever for these ideas to bear repetition and get away with, well, sounding bad by most standards. In essence, the ideas behind Udåd are those ideas.

Take the opening riff of “Bakenfor Urskogens Utkant” for instance. The abject simplicity, a steady rhythm section, and nuanced chord shifts get at the heart of what made the early black metal scene so unique. Also of note are Eriksen‘s vocals, which favor animalistic howls over the shrieking black metal trope. This results in a sound that resonates beyond what its rudimentary foundations of staccato riffing might entail. Even so, the tremolo picking and black metal waltz drumming of “Avgudsdyrker” play more naturally into the modern black metal aesthetic. Like the classic album Nattens Madrigal, Udåd has no issue letting their melodicism shine through the frigid harshness. This also helps justify the length of these songs relative to their dynamic range.

Beyond its emphasis on bass (in black metal???), “Blodnatten” generally shows how the right musician can rely on actual riffs instead of faux-atmospheric tremolo guitars. Whether it’s arpeggios, chugs, or ascending leads, Eriksen shows how much ground can be covered within the boundaries of lo-fi black metal. The album’s first and only blast beat doesn’t happen until “Den Virkelige Apokryf,” and by that point, it’s a refreshing burst of energy. Udåd gets away with a song that’s essentially one long blast beat because Eriksen has so much more to offer than walls of noise on this outing.

Granted, nothing about tracks like “Vondskapens Triumf” and “Kald Iver” will surprise listeners with even the most basic understanding of black metal. The difference becomes Eriksen‘s evident understanding of his chosen style. Whether it’s his tasteful leadwork in the former or hammering double-kick drumming in the latter, Udåd taps into a primordial well of ghastly beauty. It’s also worth emphasizing the way the bass guitar gets the spotlight, for melodic support or an extra push for the more head-banging sections. It’s also clear that Eriksen is choosing to play with more restraint. He doesn’t have to play raw black metal. He chooses to because he has something worthwhile to express using that style.

Perhaps the best aspect of Udåd comes from the fact Eriksen generates such erieness with just guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. The closing song “Antropofagens Hunger” needs no keyboards or ambient interludes for it to stick the listener in the middle of a Scandinavian winter. It just goes to show that when a person understands an aesthetic or a feeling, even the meat-and-potatoes approach will yield some compelling results. In this way, Udåd legitimizes the existence of lo-fi black metal even after the genre at large has evolved so much. As long as there are people who can evoke that profane fire of stripped-down darkness, the world needs musicians willing to trim the fat and ride the caustic hypnosis into Valhalla.

Source link