Mythic Sunship: Upheaval
El Paraiso Records

Guitarists Emil Thorenfeldt and Kasper Stougaard, bassist Rasmus Cleve, and drummer Frederik Denning return for their third Mythic Sunship album. Some bands mellow with age, but not this one: Upheaval is as thunderous as the first two, as shown by the album's four crushing instrumental sagas, three of which push past the ten-minute mark. Thorenfeldt and Stougaard's front-line attack snarls like some uncaged beast as their raw chords and knife-edged riffs weave in and around one another for minutes on end. Cleve holds things down nicely at the storm's center, his solid pulse an anchor that allows Denning to indulge his wilder side and the guitarists to unleash scalding waves of psychedelic fuzz and fire.

As powerful as the playing is, it's not an unrelenting, one-dimensional onslaught. Moments of decompression occasionally surface where the four catch their collective breath before plunging into the fray for another go-round. With the guitarists doling out crystalline melodies, the breezy opening part of the second track, “Aether Fluz,” even features pastoral-styled playing, though the band's natural affinity for bone-crushing intensity eventually moves to the fore. The glass-shattering “Cosmic Rupture” is taken at a furious pace, so much so the guitar riffs feel as if they're splintering in all directions throughout this ceaselessly wailing implosion. As lethal as it is, it's equaled by the fourteen-minute closer “Into Oblivion,” whose vicious, Sabbath-like roar and sludge verge on volcanic.

The press text for the release describes Upheaval as a culmination and refinement of the band concept, specifically “the ethos of free jazz in a doom setting.” That's not inaccurate, even if, as all such characterizations are, it's reductive. But the band members definitely bring a free-form sensibility to their playing, even when stylistically the genre in question is heavy instrumental (stoner, if you prefer) rock more than anything jazz-based.

February 2018