So many artists seem like they are trying to reach back to eras past, from some of the fuzz-heavy bands looking to reignite the sounds of the late 70s to the current collection of groups trying to do the 1980s proud. I also understand there is some sort of nu-metal revival afoot? Is that a real thing?
Another era that is paid plenty of homage is the nasty wave of black metal that burst from the Scandinavian region in the early and mid 1990s. You can throw a rock out of your car window and strike someone from a band trying to repeat that sound, and more often than not, those artists aren’t worthy of carrying around the bullet belts of those who preceded them. So when I got the advance promo for the debut album from Murg, and the words in the press released promised a trip back to that unmerciful time, I was skeptical. I’ve heard that all before, and I almost never come away satisfied. But what this band does on their thunderous debut offering “Varg & Björn” is revive hopes that, yes, those raging fires of old can burn again, and if the music is in the right hands, it can sound downright glorious.
Murg is made up of a mysterious duo from Sweden who, as far as I can tell and research, do not have any known ties to any other bands (nor do they have any online presence). They conjure thoughts of early Enslaved, Gorgoroth, Mayhem, Immortal and bands of that nature, and their fiery and passionate delivery easily can get you caught up and going on a ride into hellfires. The record is a concept piece about what they view as the “uselessness of humankind” and the constant lack of co-existence with other elements on this planet. They must be eating up and sadly spitting out the many folks in my home country’s government and their total disregard for nature and the planet. Because money. But the way things are going, nature will be judge, jury, and executioner, and by the time we realize what we’ve done, our fates will be sealed.
“Vindarna luktar rök” starts the record ominously, as fires crackles, insects buzz, and a short blast of carnage bleeds right into “Nejderna brinner,” which has some spectacular riffing that starts the proceedings. The guitar tones feel nostalgic in a way, with spacious sections offering a chance to dream and melodic glory meeting up with metallic carnage, providing a proper burst of energy. “Grannen är din fiende” launches into a burst, with fast and punishing playing, shrieks and growls that go for the throat, and many colors raining down and adding tecture to this horror. The pace later calms some, feeling more like a rock song, but then noise rings out, winds whip, and maniacal cries carry the track into the dark. “Massvandring & blodbad” has a relatively clean intro that feels cold and eerie, with voices crying out and the band finding a calculated tempo. They chug along, with harsh vocals telling the tales, the music feeling riveting and adventurous, and nature once again pushing its weight and exacting its influence.
“Den starkes rätt” just ignites, with heavy riffing leading the way like a bulldozer, the sounds simmering in their own boiling juices, and the vocals sounding menacing and tortured. A chill later hits the air musically, as the track causes your skin to chill over before the band punishes you in the track’s final minute. “Farsoternas afton” begins with buzzing noises penetrating heavily, and the music feels like it could be emanating from a dark basement in the center of winter. The track subsides a bit and goes frosty, before the track drives again heavily, the riffs take over the situation again, and the back end gets bloody and vicious, leading right into the title cut. There, the sounds are torn from the earth, with the band galloping heavily, the vocals going from guttural grunts to piercing screams, and the whole thing utterly rumbling over you. The record then ends with the 8:07 “Ett slut, ingen början,” where melodic charging rushes from the gates, sheets of sound cascade downward, and searing leads burn a path. The vocals sound chant-like at times, like they’re lulling you into hypnosis, and after a few minutes of chaos, acoustics arrives and take the song to its emotional, tear-soaked conclusion.
Every visit I’ve had with Murg has been a great one, and the music and messages they deliver on “Varg & Björn” are both thunderously furious and worthy of our undivided attention. But humans are stubborn creatures who never learn and only pay mind to what advances our own agendas, consequences to others be damned. With that in mind, this record could be the literal soundtrack to our destruction, as we slowly but certainly choke ourselves to death.
To buy the album, go here: http://www.nordvis.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.nordvis.com/