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Album Review: MORK Dypet

10 Reviewer

Formed in 2004, Mork ranks among the finest representatives of True Norwegian Black Metal. Mork is the one-man project of the brilliant Thomas Eriksen. Although Mork performs with a live lineup and has worked with several legendary guests, Eriksen has always embodied a certain lone-wolf mentality. Mork’s sixth studio album, Dypet, proves that Eriksen is still leading the pack. Gorgeous, haunting, brutal, and epic, Dypet answers your deepest, darkest prayers regarding what you want to hear from black metal nowadays.

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Although Dypet is quite different from Mork’s early material, it is still instantly recognizable as the sublime work of Thomas Eriksen’s distinctive creative voice. Nowadays, Mork is completely unconstrained by rules. Eriksen enjoys the freedom of incorporating diverse influences into his music. Since all is done with a thoroughly black metal attitude, this works perfectly. Watching Mork’s evolution unfold hitherto and finally experiencing Dypet has certainly been rewarding. Nevertheless, I would discourage listeners from calling any of Mork’s records better than the others. Rather, they are best viewed as complements to one another.

Despite its beauty, which actually possesses a certain ethereal charm, Dypet retains a raw and organic nature. Eriksen recorded and mixed the album. This has enhanced the sense of intimacy and prevented the power of the songwriting and lyrics from being diluted. The production is just right — it lends a live feel. The sound is professional, but by no means is it too polished. We must note that Dypet’s engineering was assisted by Eriksen’s friend and collaborator, the remarkably talented Freddy Holm, who has appeared on Mork’s work in the past. Thanks to the recommendation Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto, Dypet was mastered by Jack Control at Enormous Door in Texas.

On Dypet, Eriksen’s trademark flesh-tearing vocals, ferocious and low, demonstrate his mastery of the dark arts. At times, vocal tracks are stacked in a way that creates a striking impression. The dash of clean vocals on "Svik," or "Betrayal," is one example that stands out. Even the synths are used ingeniously on this album. All the elements are spot-on: the drums, the bass, the guitars. A combination of different types of riffs imbues Dypet with spontaneity. Eriksen crafts earworm melodies and enchants listeners with wicked grooves. The tempo is often a bit on the slow side for black metal, but this only magnifies its wickedness. You might notice retro vibes or that the music wields an in-your-face directness, which can feel a bit punk. Yet, the ghoulish flirtations of the instruments occasionally acquire an impish playfulness. Robust as it is in certain regards, the fabric of some of the music’s layers almost seems to be spun of a spidery gossamer that enhances the overall ghostliness.

Each song is its own universe, but they all string together to form a seamless whole. Dypet is an exceptionally balanced offering. It evokes a variety of thrilling and turbulent moods while exploring diverse themes. The opener, "Indre Demoner," or "Inner Demons," begins by building atmosphere and suspense. It teases us a bit before revealing the true extent of the horror of Mork, twisted like tree branches and otherworldly yet also quite realistic. Next, "Seduced by the Cold," "Forført av kulden," actually hypes you up while freezing you to death. Other songs make you burn with pride and rage. "Høye murer," "Tall Walls," is an especially cutting yet catchy gem that features Erlend Hjelvik (Hjelvik, ex-Djevel, ex-Kvelertak). You might have read that Dypet’s ambitious title track, "Et kall fra dypet," "A Call from the Deep," which speaks of vanishing fishermen, was partially inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. There is often a seafaring quality, as on "Bortgang," which translates as "Passing" or "Demise." After this meditative mini masterpiece, "Avskum," or "Scum," enlivens listeners again with the elixir of hatred.

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Dypet carries on Mork’s tradition of poetic excellence and bears lyrical similarities to past releases. This provides a reassuring sense continuity. The final song, "Tilbake til opprinnelsen," or "Back to the Origins," which captivates us with a cosmic sound, has a prophetic aura: "Tiden skal vende kurs. Himmelen og stjernene, tilbake til det rene." / "Time is about to change its course. The heavens and the stars, back to a clean slate." The song later continues: "Han vil henge månen på nattehimmelen, reise fjellene opp fra jorden. Han vil trekke elvene innover landet fra havet som fylles av hans tårer."  / "He will hang the moon on the night sky, raise the mountains up from the soil. He will pull the rivers into the countryside from the ocean that’s filled by his tears." Here, Eriksen uses some layered clean vocals again, this time for a majestic choral effect.

Yes, Dypet is all all-consuming experience that washes over audiences like waves and totally engulfs you by the end. Like other Mork albums, Dypet conjures crushing feelings of loneliness and existential pain that will befriend you for life. Nevertheless, a reinvigorating sense of primal strength is always evident. There’s a certain resilience inherent in Mork’s work. Ultimately, the fact that Dypet is both destructive and constructive makes it all the more profound. Dypet is heartrending and bone-shattering but also healing. Eriksen’s approach to his craft is far more mature than that of most modern black metal artists. He doesn’t allow anything that might seem contrived to creep into his art. Eriksen is honest; he uses his real name; he doesn’t hide behind a mask; and Dypet is a reflection of that mentality. 

My only true complaint is that I would have liked a few extra tracks; this album flew by for me at lightning speed. However, at nearly 48-minutes-long, the duration is more than enough to satisfy the vast majority of listeners. We can hope for more material soon, considering that Mr. Eriksen has spoken about the possibility of yet another EP with unused songs.

Through his music and his podcast, The Thomas Eriksen Show, the Mork mastermind has done some of the very best work to preserve the legacy of the genre that has become Norway’s biggest cultural export. Dypet is no exception. It is an intensely personal and fearless effort. Menacing and aggressive yet reflective, Dypet is sure to stand the test of time. It will keep you "for alltid forankret" / “forever anchored" to its spellbinding allure.

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