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Photo: Ivo Osvald / Zbytečné fotky
Venue: Kabinet MÚZ, Brno
Date: 2nd February 2024
Hailing from the heart of Prague‘s underground metal scene, MÖRKHIMMEL has long been a beacon of sonic darkness and musical extremity. Since its creation in 2007, it wasn‘t actually until 2012, with a pivotal lineup change and the release of their defining album Zloskřivec, that their presence truly began to loom large. Composed of seasoned musicians with backgrounds in legendary Czech underground acts, such as MOTHER, THEMA ELEVEN, and SEE YOU IN HELL, MÖRKHIMMEL swiftly carved their niche by amalgamating elements of hardcore, sludge, and black metal into a corrosive sonic brew.
Genium Obskurity, their latest offering which was released at the beginning of November 2023, is another testament to their enduring legacy and penchant for unrelenting darkness. The album serves as a sonic odyssey through realms of despair and desolation, encapsulating the essence of existential dread and human frailty. Sung entirely in Czech, the lyrics delve into themes ranging from the cradle to the coffin, painting a bleak portrait of life‘s futility and inevitable demise. Jsme všichni v prdeli.
From the ominous opening track Thanatos to the haunting finale of Návrat (The Return), each composition on Genium Obskurity unfolds like chapters in a macabre tome, all of them weaving a narrative of profound introspection and foreboding. I particularly like the French cabaret opening of Thanatos, especially when it is abruptly replaced by the sounds of heavy drones and the heavy chords of the guitars. This is an amazing track, actually quite simple in composition and difficult to categorise into one specific genre (think of doom metal with an undertone of classic metal with vocals reminiscent of Josef Vojtek (Kabát) after a heavy night in a Czech pub). I’m hooked immediately on their sound and totally get into the following tracks Aparát lidského hříchu (Aparatus of Human Sin) and Dotek smrti (A Touch of Death), which showcase MÖRKHIMMEL‘s mastery of dynamics, seamlessly transitioning between moments of brooding introspection and explosive catharsis (with heavy doses of the latter). The crushing weight of doom-laden riffs are juxtaposed with the frenetic energy of blackened tremolos, all of which create an atmosphere that is simultaneously suffocating and exhilarating. I particularly like this album, with its tones of black and death incorporated ingeniously throughout. And this is exactly one of the album‘s most striking qualities, with its ability to transcend genre boundaries, since it incorporates diverse influences and experimental elements without diluting its core essence. Tracks like A noc zdá se věčná (The Night Seems Eternal), which is my personal favourite, especially the atmospherics) and Návrat exude a primal rawness that evoke images of ancient rituals and primordial chaos, while Objetí (Embrace) and Země (Earth), with its cool spoken word and celestial sounds of the otherworld) unveil a more introspective facet, laden heavily with melancholy and ethereal ambience.
And the Florkman’s prognosis? Genium Obskurity certainly showcases MÖRKHIMMEL‘s commitment to pushing the boundaries of sonic extremity and the genre itself, once again reaffirming their status as one of the foremost purveyors of blackened doom/sludge metal on the Czech and Slovak scene. I was immediately captivated by their relentless sonic assault and uncompromising vision, especially in an age consumed by superficiality and artifice. MÖRKHIMMEL is no doubt a bastion of authenticity who can masterfully channel the darkness that lurks within the human psyche into a cathartic journey through the abyss of the world today.
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