Review Summary: Wait a second... I thought Chuck Schuldiner was dead?
It’s been half a decade it seems like since anything worthwhile has been released in the Melodeath genre. After the collapse of the Children of Bodom, Dark Tranquillity’s disappointing We Are the Void and the opening of In Flames’ post-Clayman assembly line of half-assed albums, no stand-out band has risen to pick up the slack.
While unfortunately it looks like Mordium won’t be the band to fill that void since they decided to disband shortly after releasing this one self-titled debut, they did leave behind some very solid and entertaining material that fans of the genre will enjoy.
The album starts off with a cheesy and cheap-sounding instrumental intro that most listeners will end up skipping on just about every subsequent listen, but recovers quickly with a solid opener in ‘Frigid Ice’, containing a main riff that sounds like something straight off of Opeth’s Orchid or Dark Tranquillity’s The Gallery.
Apparent from the first verse, the vocals sound strikingly reminiscent of The Sound of Perseverance-era Chuck Shuldiner with the ear-piercingly high-pitched but understandable screams. Just like on the final Death album, this vocal style will get a bit annoying when listening to more than 3 songs in one sitting, but it ultimately suites the music well even without Schuldiner’s philosophical lyrical wizardry.
I recommend listening to this with a set of stereo speakers or in your car instead of on headphones due to the production, the vocals and drums sounding way louder than the guitars with the vocals already being loud and harsh in nature. The same type of production the earlier Children of Bodom records and many other bands that use similar guitar tones suffer from.
The third track Echoes of Existence is one of the clear highlights on the album containing a catchy guitar lick that’s repeated twice at the beginning and end sections of the song and a solid main riff to support it. Tracks 4-6 are where most of the filler material is placed. Overall none of these songs are particularly bad, but have confusingly awful sections in them like the clean-ish vocals in Norther Dawn that bring the album to screeching halt almost.
To consolidate, the clear stand out on the album Eclipsed by Darkness comes out guns-blazing with some pounding, excellent drum work and a tasteful guitar riff backing it, culminating with an incredibly slick-sounding guitar solo concluded by a vicious held-out scream. The final two tracks are very good, both boasting multi-minute jam sessions but this is the true climax of the album to me.
If you aren’t already a fan of Melodic Death Metal, this sure as hell won’t defect you into one. In fact it’ll probably make you hate the genre even more as it’s way more over-the-top and in-your-face vocally than most Metal frontmen end up sounding. It’s nothing ground-breaking or genre-shatteringly different, just a solid release that we haven’t seen in this genre for some time.
Highly recommended to fans of the first three Children of Bodom albums or Dark Tranquillity’s earlier work.