Sports website Deadspin recently posted an article about the NYC Hot Sauce Expo, where hot chili farmers and makers of spicy sauces come in droves to show off the fruits of their various labors. The convention features countless chili pepper types, an even greater array of hot sauces, and about a zillion gallons of milk. As an event, it can only accurately be described as a gathering of masochists. Just reading about it will make you afraid to rub your eyes.
The real headliner of the event, however, is a contest in which a bunch of total maniacs try to eat as many Carolina Reaper peppers as possible. The Reaper, in case you don’t know, cranks up the heat to about 1.5 million Scoville units (compare that to the measly 6,000 of a regular jalapeño). This makes the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest seem like a friendly game of backyard horseshoes. The little hell nuggets these people consume aren’t even food; they’re the culinary equivalent of chemical warfare, and many of the contestants come back again and again. They crave the punishment.
Depending on the particular listening habits of the listener, Mylingar ought to conjure any number of malicious associations. Döda själar has a dissonance that borders on atonality, bringing to mind the esoteric and antagonistic nature of Deathspell Omega, but it has none of that act’s baroque sensibility or artistic long game; it has the constantly threatening cacophony and brutality of Anaal Nathrakh’s classic The Codex Necro, but is largely devoid of the grind or melodic Mayhem influence; and it communicates the unseen horrors and almost vacuous riffs of Portal, but generally prefers violence and psychological torment over even implied theatricality or fantastical elements.
And violent it is. Remember the parts in Ip Man when Donnie Yen is just rapid-fire punching his enemies into a Wing Chun pulp? That’s basically what this sounds like. (Don’t remember it? Never seen Ip Man? Go watch Ip Man.) The double kick drum and toms are in near constant overdrive, while the riffs take mostly a simplistic/efficient form, sometimes clanging and sometimes churning. It results in a wall of sound that would approach war metal if it wasn’t for the captivating presence of the vocals and the rare moments in which things ease up on the aggression in favor of an extra expansive form of malignity. These two elements often enhance each other, as during the slow burn in the middle of “Mållösheten.” The drums let up on the demolition, freeing the riffs to ring out as warped, almost drunken monoliths, while the vocals ‒ loaded with personality and voluminous in far more than mere decibel levels ‒ really expand the acrid atmosphere.
There’s nothing nice here, which is nice! In the process of four years, Mylingar has delivered three great, absolutely devastating slabs of supremely unpleasant black/death metal intently focused on anguish and violence. There is no light, relief, or resolution, merely a gauntlet of riffs, hammerings, bulldozings, and mental torment. That they add a great malevolent aura underneath the onslaught just helps to give your assailant ‒ and by extension, the whole punishing experience ‒ a nice touch of personality.
But Döda själar is a gleefully punishing experience, which is quite a bit different than whatever the contestants at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo go through just for their chance at some actually sick form of infamy.
Don’t eat the Carolina Reaper. Carolina Reaper very bad. Listen to Mylingar. Mylingar very good.