“With the same needle, under the same moon.” The title of Myrholt‘s first full-length release already evokes the spirit of Norwegian Black Metal: dark, morbid, and in awe of nature. Its musical rawness is also reflected by the album cover photo that seems deliberately lo-fi. The moon the album title talks about is only visible as a white circle, grainy light radiating from it into an undefined darkness. It is too easy to imagine Ole Alexander Myrholt, the musician behind this solo project, sitting in his North Norwegian woods, taking a photo of the night sky above with his phone. The Black Metal legends Darkthrone walked a similar path in 2016 when they made a nightly bonfire snapshot the album cover of their last release ‘Arctic Thunder.’
We ease into the first song slowly, the volume rising steadily; the first melodic motif of Inn I Den Blåa Flammen moving up and down in the background is instantly captivating, tense and bittersweet. The drums have a pleasing no-fuss and slightly punky mentality to them, and Myrholt’s voice comes across as a well-articulated screaming, not disguising the beautiful sound of the Norwegian lyrics. As the song moves on, different variations of the first melodic motif are played through, and the drums oscillate between sustained and aggressive simplicity that allows the listener to get into a trance-like listening state. A great start to the album!
Merkur instantly starts off as nice and aggressive, reminiscent of old-school Black Metal on tape. Rattling blast-beats and moaning guitars moving up and down scales in combination with the polyphonic screams create the characteristic melancholic euphoria that particularly Scandinavian Black Metal seems to be able to produce – too bad that the guitar solo at the end comes across as too warm and thus a bit off, leaving an unconvincing aftertaste.
The following Mikrokosmos shows a different facet of melancholy, working with painful guitar shredding and aggressive screams at the beginning and then adding some keys and spoken word – the keyboard, however, is in danger of coming across as a kitschy choir of dark angels quivering in the background. This and the at times odd transitions make listening a little straining. Plus, the last guitar melody at the end could have been executed more in-depth as it truly has potential.
We then move on to Kysten, a musical painting of the rough Norwegian coast. The drums at the beginning are varied without betraying the otherwise simple style; hymnic screams unfortunately end up as some sort of warrior choir that makes the associations of a cold sea breeze in one’s face vaporise instantly. Darkness and simple aggression are picked up again in the following but the middle part still leaves the listener wondering what has just happened.
Luckily, Tanke og Minne convinces with an atmospheric sound reminding of Alcest or Novembre, while at the same time sporting a hollow drum sound and resounding screams. The meandering through sweet and sad melodies, and the at times relentless hammering on the drums are cathartic and address the topic of “thought and memory” in a musically very direct way. The ending feels positively open, like a question mark.
Lagnad starts off as emotional, fast and groovy, and the combination of whispers, screams and choir-like sound as well as both shredding and melodic guitars make an intriguing combination. This time, the Nordic “warrior spirit” shining through is less exaggerated and overall much better executed than in Kysten; too bad the keyboard fade-out at the end seems somewhat awkward.
The last song Ved Yggdrasils Tredje Rot pretty much sounds like demons and party (which is a good thing). The first riff invites the listener to let go and enjoy the madness of the bass drum and cymbals. We seem to be taken on a walk through a dark forest, the destination far away or unknown. How much more Norwegian can Black Metal get? The last bit of sweet guitar sadness at the end is not transitioned into too smoothly but definitely makes a fitting end for this record.
All in all, ‘Med Samme Nål, Under Samme Måne’ is a fun Black Metal release that comes up with riffs that stay in the ears for a while after the music has finished. The atmosphere is strong and blatantly Norwegian – and the variation of instrumental and vocal sounds builds a unique character. A little more overall coherence concerning sound and motif transitions, however, would have greatly benefited the overall listening experience.
GET YOUR HANDS ON MYRHOLT’S ‘MED SAMME NAL, UNDER SAMME MANE’ FROM BANDCAMP HERE!