Artist: Mörk Gryning

Album Title: Hinsides Vrede

Label: Season Of Mist

Date of Release: 23 October 2020

I happen to be one of those that really love the debut from this Swedish black metal band. The name of that debut was ‘Tusen År Har Gått’ and I discovered it via a compilation album that many longer-term readers of will know all about: ‘Blackend Volume 2’. Responsible for many of my earlier black metal discoveries, it was also the disc that brought Mörk Gryning to my attention, thanks to the inclusion of the title track from the aforementioned debut. I adored the track, especially the ultra-melodic middle section that emerged from nowhere. I hunted down, at some expense, an original copy of ‘Tusen År Har Gått’, which is now comfortably nestled within my collection.

I didn’t realise until recently just how young the duo of Goth Gorgon and Draakh Kimera both were when they wrote the debut, namely 15 and 19 respectively. Whether it was the innocence and confidence of youth, or something else entirely, none of the following four albums managed to hit the mark in the same kind of way for me and it was no real surprise that the band broke up in 2005 after the release of their self-titled fifth album.

However, in 2020, after a 15-year hiatus, Mörk Gryning have returned with ‘Hinsides Vrede’ via Season Of Mist. Given my history with the Swedish band, I just had to check it out their unexpected return to the world of black metal.

In many ways listening to ‘Hinsides Vrede’, it feels like the last two decades have not existed. That’s because, almost immediately upon pressing play, I am transported back to the mid-90s and to when these guys were at their pomp. Ok, when listening to ‘Tusen…’ and ‘Hinsides Vrede’ back to back, you can hear how much more polished Mörk Gryning sound in the modern era, thanks to a slick production job. But intrinsically, the output remains largely unchanged. Therefore, what we get with ‘Hinsides Vrede’ is a 35-minute romp through familiar territory, where the riffs are fast and icy, the drumming rapid, and the melodies sufficiently pronounced to provide a certain amount of accessibility, not to mention a winning catchiness that’s hard to ignore.

Some might argue that ‘Hinsides Vrede’ is a redundant exercise in 2020, given that black metal has moved on so much in the decade and a half that Mörk Gryning have been away. However, I would disagree. I’ve never really cared about anything other than whether I enjoy the music with which I am presented. And, whilst this isn’t in any way a perfect album, it is a welcome return, one that offers me much enjoyment and satisfaction as I listen.

Naturally for a black metal album that harkens back to the 90s, you get a few instrumental interludes. In this case, I count four, including a plainsong-infused intro and what is actually a beautiful acoustic guitar piece entitled ‘Hinsides’. Nevertheless, for my money, that’s a few too many, even if the album comprises twelve tracks. Mind you, once ‘Fältherren’ kicks in, the Swedes can be forgiven.

Beginning at breakneck speed with frenetic drumming, icy riffs and the caustic bark of xx, it is a powerful statement. However, there’s melody within the guitar work, brief interludes into acoustic guitar territory where the melody is more pronounced, and, in places, a certain amount of groove to compliment the more aggressive delivery elsewhere.

The quality doesn’t end there, with a further handful of tracks worthy of exploration. First in the list is ‘Existence In A Dream’, which begins like its predecessor by starting at lightning speed. But Mörk Gryning mix things up by injecting some slower-paced groove, quieter passages, and choral vocal effects in the chorus, which remind me a little of more modern-day Dimmu Borgir, albeit not as theatrical.

‘Infernal’ is another favourite that contains a melodic riff not dissimilar to the great Dissection at their pomp. However, it’s the lead guitar work over the restrained tumult as the song develops that gets to me, as does the incredibly melodious lead guitar solo that emerges.

‘A Glimpse Of The Sky’ introduces a vague folk element to it, alongside a quality solo and nice melody, whilst ‘Sleeping In The Embers’ delivers the most arresting and enthralling melody on the entire album, not to mention lashings of melancholy atmosphere that I really like. That said, ‘Without Crown’ manages to push it close. It’s a generally slower affair, certainly at the outset, full of malevolence as the keys duet nicely with the cold, sharp guitar notes. Then, in the latter stages, Mörk Gryning go full-on melodic, complete with clean vocals. It’s great, but simply doesn’t last anywhere near long enough for my tastes.

If I had a criticism about this record, other than the lack of growth, it’d be that there’s no single song that is quite as good as the title track from their infamous debut. That was a game-changer for me back in the day. That said, there are plenty of great songs on ‘Hinsides Vrede’, and I do believe the quality here is more consistent overall. I only hope that this isn’t just a one-off. Based on the output here, there’s definitely room for more Mörk Gryning music in the years to come. Welcome back to the fold, gentlemen.

The Score of Much Metal: 83%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

DGM – Tragic Separation

Perduratum – Exile’s Anthology

Carcass – Despicable EP

Mors Principium Est – Seven

Cult Of Lilith – Mara

Helion Prime – Question Everything

Soul Secret – Blue Light Cage

Enslaved – Utgard

Dynfari – Myrkurs er þörf

Amaranthe – Manifest

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Structural Disorder – Kingdom Crossing

Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

Prehistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)

Ihsahn – Pharos

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber
Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews