REVIEW: MAVORIM – “AXIS MUNDI”

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Mavorim – Axis Mundi; released January 31, 2020 by Purity Through Fire, a top-brass, German label. Every band they have signed is killer. Every album that P. T. F. has published, that I’ve listened to, has been spectacular. No mundanity nor mediocrity in sight. The same goes for Mavorim. Every single piece of media, whether it be their split with Totenwache (a band which I’ve criticized before for its lack of originality); their 2018 debut, Silent Leges Inter Arma; or their comically long (almost 55 minutes) 2019 EP, Aasfresser (seriously, what is with German bands making full, LP-length EPs, Katharsis did the same thing in 2009 with their excellent Fourth Reich). In fact, I’m convinced that Mavorim is not a band. It is a machine. A well-oiled German machine which produces nothing but pure, unadulterated gold. Seriously, they’ve been pumping out high-quality material, consistently, since their formation in 2014. If none of their content has ever crossed your path, stop reading this and go Google them. Their Bandcamp will be linked below. You will not be disappointed. And if you are, then we can’t be friends. Be gone from my website! Go on. SHOO!

Heavily inspired by the Tyrants of Black Metal, Mavorim create good, old-fashioned, mid-paced, melodic, pagan black metal with the occasional folkish ambient and balladic Volksmusik numbers. They definitely lean closer to the black metal side than the RAC side, despite the scant clean vocals. Since Absurd hasn’t released a proper album since 2005, if you’re looking for something to sate that Thuringian pagan hunger, then you need look no further than Mavorim. Since there isn’t anything overtly – shall we say – NS, about this band or its lyrics (debatably with track titles like “Die Ufer von Thule” and “Hyperborea”), some may look at Mavorim as merely a toothless, domesticated, watered-down imitation of Absurd. I guess I can kind of see where they’re coming from. The production quality on this release is extremely (and, again, unnecessarily) high-fidelity (they’re older material is decidedly rawer, though). The end product is well-polished, any rough edges are all thoroughly sanded down. Personally, I don’t think they engage in utter Absurd worship. The musical similarities, or “echoes”, are clearly there, but I don’t think Mavorim are trying to hide their influences. They’re not trying to deceive anyone, and I think that’s commendable. Still, I think their musical style and approach are different enough. Are they a mere, politically acceptable, mainstream-friendly, Absurd alternative? Perhaps. There does appear to be a todesrune in their logo, though. So, I don’t know.

The riffcraft of the guitars in Axis Mundi strikes an elegant balance between dissonance and consonance. There are some unnerving melodies and harmonies sprinkled here and there, but the preponderance of melodies is of a decidedly triumphant, diatonic nature, typical of pagan-oriented black metal. The drums perfectly realize their function to set the pace and drive the momentum of the song. The drumwork isn’t so unique that it captures or distracts the listener throughout the experience. It’s just very well integrated and fulfills its purpose. In the first half of at least, the instruments all complement each other and work, in perfect concert, to build up acceleration towards a culmination not unlike a stampeding sonic calvary charge. This compositional synergy functions to imbue the listener with adamantine determination and devastating, berserker rage. The album definitely slows down in the second half, though, and emphasizes the clean vocals, not that I’m, by any means, displeased. It does sort of impede the flow of the album in totality. It’s like a running a race at a break-neck pace only to stop right at the end and crawl across the finish line. Not really an issue, it just sort of stuck out to me. It doesn’t help that track 12 is merely a continuation of track 4 and repeats the exact same melody and structure (if I had any legitimate complaints, it would be this). Late in the album is, however, also where you get some of the really interesting and uniquely eerie ambient sections, like track 11. I almost wish Mavorim would release a separate, entirely ambient, Burzum-esque full-length album that I could play whilst traversing the foggy, soggy lowlands at dawn. Strangely, the last (bonus) track, 13, is a cover of a Minenwerfer track from an album which only just came out last year. Don’t bands typically cover classic songs from classic bands? Really breaking the mold there.

Blood is life! Blood is the axis of the world. Blood is what makes the world go ‘round. Mavorim is my new religion. Their latest effort, Axis Mundi, is a meisterwerk of hasserfüllt, anti-leben, anti-modern mordkraft. It is a long one (clocking in at almost 1 hour, 7 minutes), so get comfortable. I’ve endured the entirety of Altar of Perversion’s Intra Naos (which is torturously spread across three LPs) twice, so length is no issue for me. Favorite songs? I refuse to tell you. You should discover your own by listening to the whole album. Mavorim is one of the best bands to emerge from this generation of black metal (there are quite a few). With neither question nor reservation, I would absolutely recommend this album to underground aficionado. Essential, mandatory listening to the tyrants of tomorrow.

Listen and buy here: https://mavorim.bandcamp.com/

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