Mavorim – Axis Mundi Review

One-man bands make me both impressed and apprehensive. I’m impressed because having a musical vision is special to begin with and being able to execute it solo takes real talent. I’m apprehensive because there’s no give-and-take or real collaboration for the visionary, and most creators of any stripe lack the will to kill their darlings. Mavorim is the project of one man, and Axis Mundi is the project’s third full-length. There’s a lot here to cover – sixty-six minutes to be precise – so let’s dive right in.

Mavorim play what could reasonably termed “post-wave black metal” – as a solo project, Mavorim is tied wholly to what sole member “P.” likes and wants to hear. In no particular order, the listener will hear Harakiri for the Sky, Immortal, Burzum, Mgla, Ascension, Watain, Edge of Sanity, and Vintersorg. The production is of some interest, as the guitar tone sounds similar to the one Entrails used on Raging Death – this produces a peculiar sound that fits well with Axis Mundi overall. Synths are used often as well, sometimes superimposing a Burzum-type melody over the riffs, sometimes bolstering a folkish melody in the vein of Vintersorg‘s later output.

By sheer probability, an album which runs sixty-six minutes ought to contain at least some good material, and Axis Mundi certainly does. The morose folk melody which is the basis of “Die letzte Festung” is well-done and sounds like Vintersorg paying tribute to Burzum. Also good is the main melody of “Der Himmel bricht entzwei” played initially on synth, getting an interesting rendition with strong clean vocals from P. and culminating in guitar and synth harmonizing around that melody in the conclusion. There’s a real sense of development in the song, and care was clearly taken in its composition.

Where Axis Mundi falters is precisely where I worried it would: a lack of editing. “Die Ufer von Thule” is a needless ambient interlude that serves no purpose. There are fifteen minutes of ostensible bonus tracks – one is an alternate version of the very good “Wie ein Sturm” which is identical save for some guest vocals, the other a cover of Minenwerfer’s “Kaiserjägerlied” – a song which was on their 2019 record Alpenpässe. Minenwerfer wrote a very good song, but the decision to cover it is inexplicable. Alpenpässe was recorded between September 2018 and May 2019, and Axis Mundi between January and July of 2019, and Alpenpässe dropped at the end of last October. This suggests that Mavorim covered a song that wasn’t even out yet and heard it because the two bands share a label. Moving on, the synth intro of “Weltenberg” and the synth outro of “Hyperborea” bookend the record and give it a complete feeling. These ostensible bonus tracks make an already long album (51 minutes) downright incessant. Also not helping is the bleak standard-issue Watain-core melodicism of “Verbannt in Dunkelheit” failing to hold interest like the folk-driven parts do. Subsequent track “Königsjäger” attempts the same thing, but forcibly injects some folk into its Lawless Darkness outtake mold and employs a drumbeat over it that sounds awkward and confused. It then abruptly returns to trying to be “Mav-feitor” but finally rights the ship near its end by putting that folk melody to superb use. The song sounds like it was constructed to have this lone great idea in it act as a coda, and its frustrating to hear in a middling song.

Axis Mundi is a front-loaded record to a fault. It exhausts its best ideas in the first five proper tracks (not counting an interlude and intro), and beyond that stretches its remaining ideas too thin. There’s a high quality thirty-five (give or take) minute black metal record in here with an interesting use of synth and folk melodies, coupled with a guitar tone that gives Axis Mundi a bit more of an identity in a crowded field. Mavorim can clearly create interesting, evocative, and memorable black metal. Unfortunately, Mavorim can also create trite Watain-core and overstuff a record past the point of being able to handle one more wafer-thin after dinner mint. Given that both occur on Axis Mundi, it’s impossible to wholeheartedly recommend this record. However, it would be folly to advise the reader to avoid it entirely, because there is high quality material here too. In the end, I can cautiously recommend Axis Mundi, if only for the listener to hear a band with great potential that can be actualized by better distinguishing the wheat from the chaff.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Purity Through Fire
Websites: mavorim.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Mavorim
Releases Worldwide: January 31st, 2020

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