Sweden’s Mylingar has only seemed to get more twisted and nightmarish with each release, and this year’s Döda själar is no exception. Coming in as the end of the trilogy started with 2016’s Döda vägar EP, the group’s sound has gotten even denser and headed towards loftier heights than before, delivering an experience that’s sonically draining by the end but that perfectly captures what makes both black and death metal so enticing to listeners with a more extreme palette. It may not radically reinvent where the band has headed over their past two releases, but when it’s so claustrophobic and overwhelming that’s certainly not a bad thing.
Mylingar’s not for the faint of heart, as it launches right into an all-out attack on the senses. Rather than building up with an ominous intro the instrumentals come in with a full wall of sound that’s room shaking even at low volumes. Despite just how dense and claustrophobic the overall approach is Döda själar has been mixed in a way that allows the details to break through, so unlike your average cavernous death metal or murky black/death metal album there are distinguishable riffs throughout the madness and this gives the material a lot more staying power. Where Mylingar excels is in their ability to seamlessly blur together black and death metal better than the average band, as even on the first song there are tonal shifts from bottom-heavy, lurching death metal and dissonant black metal riffs that will make your skin crawl. The instrumentals don’t stay in the same place for too long and often as you’re feeling as though you can take a breath they double down on the attack, warping the script and burrowing deeper into your psyche. Given the nature of this churning, frantic instrumentation there are some sections that blur together a bit, but there remains enough nuances that will stick with you and encourage you to give this one repeat listens to discover more and more of the layers underneath the surface.
As intense and overwhelming as the riffs can be, it’s the vocal performance that puts Döda själar over the top and into truly terrifying territory. The vocals come through with so much intensity that it feels like they’re coming from right next to you and about to grab you by the throat, with the pitch moving between guttural growls and higher screams that seem to only get more inhuman with each passing minute. Listen to the last quarter of “Forlusten” feels like you’ve opened a portal directly into hell and are being sucked down into it with no escape, and while plenty of bands go for this type of nightmarish and otherworldly feel there are few that nail it quite like Mylingar.
Despite coming so quickly after last year’s album Döda själar pushes Mylingar’s sound even further out towards the brink of total insanity. With the sound now booming outwards towards a truly commanding and sinister presence, the group’s take on warped black/death metal has grown even stronger and there are few that can channel dread in this way. Strap yourself in for complete and utter terror and eventual death, as this is some of the most intense material the genre has to offer in 2019. Döda själar is available from Amor Fati Productions and 20 Buck Spin.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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