Mhorgl - Antinomian (independent)

Traditional black metal, but more than it seems.

I love it when metal bands have me scrambling for references and Perth black metal outfit Mhorgl’s latest release had me doing just that. Antinomianism is, according to Wikipedia, a belief that an individual’s faith elevates them above all other laws – as the back of the CD booklet states, “I am not a slave to the law of God or man; and therefore I live as I like” – a black metal manifesto if ever I heard one.

Such blasphemy – lyrical and, some would say, musical – permeates this release, the second full-length from the band, but the first with Louis Rando on drums. At times, a traditional black metal feel dominates – moments later, a thrashy riff or arpeggio-laden melodic passage kicks in. Yet rather than seem disjointed, good mixing from Perth’s Aiden Barton manages to tie it all into a cohesive whole, each instrument with its own voice, the bass in particular standing out in a way that’s not often heard.

Along with six original tracks written primarily by guitar and bass team Robert Thorpe and James Campbell, Antinomian includes two “covers”. Necrohatred (A tribute to Darkthrone) is a reinterpretation rather than a cover, and sticks to the more traditional black metal path with shout outs to the Norwegian originators. Mr Crowley, the Ozzy Osborne classic, gets a chaotic black metal reworking as well, to the point where it’s almost unrecognisable from the original.

If I had one criticism, it would be that on the first listening, some of the lyrics and phrasing seem forced – as though vocalist and lyricist Sam Moretta was forcing particular words to fit the songs with a crowbar. The vocal delivery is raspy yet precise – dude has great diction! – and on subsequent listens the discomfort wasn’t as pronounced, but first impressions do count.

All in all however, this is a top release: eight strong tracks, coming in at 37 minutes, with no atmospherics or filler intro/outro tracks that all too often plague black metal releases. Almost every review of this album I’ve heard ends with the question “why the hell aren’t these guys signed to a major label?”. Let’s hope they’re hanging out for a killer deal because more people need to hear Antinomian.

Mhorgl's Antinomian is an independent release and is out now.