Band: MARA
Country: Sweden
Title: Loka Maer
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Year: 2022
Style: Pagan Black Metal

Although they've changed most part of their line-up since the previous album, with Vindsval being the only remaining original member (well, anyway he started the band on his own, like a one-man-project back in 2010), Swedish Mara return with their fourth studio album made of 5 new tracks (the 6th is actually a Viking ritual intro) but clocking only a bit over 25 minutes of playing time, so more an EP than a full-length if you ask me. We're treated with the same type of second wave Scandinavian Black Metal with Pagan influences in both lyrics and music like in their previous works, but being a quartet this time makes them sound heavier and more decisive. Actually this album is really impressive, a proud predecessor of Swedish Black Metal combining ferocious riffs, melodic leads, classy solos, an absolutely dominant rhythm section and desperate Black Metal shrieks (which could have been a tag more versatile for my taste), varied and interesting rhythms that avoid any trace of boredom, where the fast paced passages are out of this world, my favorite thing about all their music. From my point of view Mara is the new Setherial of the Swedish Black Metal scene, at least this new album had the same effect on me like when I first discovered Setherial in the '90's, with a plus on Mara's side on composition variety and an even better (more technical) guitar work; except for the short length for an album, Loka Maer is a fantastic piece of music if you enjoy your Black Metal with ultra-fast parts, a dense pagan shell, melodic touches and traditional attitude.
Reviewed by Adrian
Rating: 9/10