Review Summary: Roaring forth from the filthy crevices of the death-metal underground, Mortiferum brings us a rather disgusting album… a rather disgustingly good album that is.
No doubt disgorged from some dark, twisted and, dare I say, psychotic chasm of the death-metal underground comes a new gauche and graceless collective known as Mortiferum
, with their debut album Disgorged From Psychotic Depths
, containing their very own death-doomy assault on our eardrums and perhaps even our stomachs. For, if you were to ask me which terms I would associate with this album, words such as odious, repugnant, repulsive and revolting immediately come to my mind. However, when related to this album, these terms seem to lose their negative connotations. See, this is not the type of music one would describe as ‘pretty’ or ‘soothing’. In fact it may be anything but that. It is a type of slow, trudging, unpolished and vulgar death-metal (ala obliteration perhaps) which induces in to the listener the sense of being violently and inexorably dragged through a chemically infected swamp, an experience which becomes increasingly more vivid as the music on this albums continues to further envelop the listener in its endless flurry of boorish noise. The question remains however: have Mortiferum delivered us with an album which can, in all its depravity, grant the listener the musical enjoyment they so crave? Let us find out.
Now I would usually take my time here to elucidate on the conceptual side of the album, but I’m not entirely sure whether there are enough conceptual particularities Disgorged…
can offer us. As far as lyrical themes go, the best I can tell from merely looking at the titles and taking into the account the genre we are listening to as well as the album’s overall mood, is that the lyrics are probably dark, gory and profoundly indecent. I suppose we’re going to have to wait until the actual lyrics are available, because vocalist (and guitarist) Max Bowman’s gurgling gutturals are nigh-impossible to decipher; he really sounds akin to a rusted faucet which has been possessed by some perverted swamp monster. That being said, his unpolished, raw, deeply disturbing vocals, although somewhat monotonous and unvaried, perfectly fit the tone and overall sound of the instrumentation on this album, which is equally unpolished, raw, crushing and dense. From the muddy, immensely heavy, distorted guitars and the heavily distorted, reverbing, filthy bass to the slow and thundering drums, everything fits nicely together and certainly accommodates the record’s overall dark mood and themes rather adequately. All of this is amplified by the slightly muddy, raw and unpolished production, further adding to the albums rough, coarse and gloomy sound and tone.
Most of the songs on this album are far slower paced than most death-metal, attempting to crush the listener, mostly through dense, trudging rhythms with tremendously heavy guitars, pounding drums and murky basslines in conjunction with the dragging, gurgled vocal lines. This, in combination with the moderately unpolished production referenced earlier, and some lovely little subtle instrumentation, allows Mortiferum to create some truly sickening and very eerie builds. Often these builds lead to a crescendo of sorts, during which the instruments suddenly erupt into a dissonant flurry of death-metal madness, as the guitars and drums increase in both velocity and power to beat the listener into submission. A perfect example of this would be found on the album’s highlight and closing track 'Faceless Apparition', as a constantly building, groovy yet bullying, doomy rhythm precipitously erupts into a climactic moment of madness, before we revert back to a slower rhythm again.
It is this compositional structure, which firstly commences with these doomy rhythms establishing, in conjunction with the gurgling vocals, a lumbering, atmospheric wall of sound, before the instrumentation slowly picks up the pace and either culminates in a crescendo or simply continues along through unremarkable peaks and valleys, which is representative of most of the composition found on this album. There is little compositional variation and it causes the album to become stale and predictable as you make your way through its putrid musical landscape. The instrumental variation is similarly lacking at times, with the riffing and drumming becoming equally repetitive and uninspired when their novelty starts to wear off. Sure, there are some nice instrumental avenues taken here and there, with a tasty solo at the end of the first track and a lovely little acoustic interlude between the penultimate and final track, but other than that, a lack of variation continues to plague this album. This is unfortunately only made more apparent on repeated listens.
Again, the execution is there and I found myself headbanging or making faces of pure joy at times, as the nasty riffing and bullying drums, elicited in me profound enjoyment. Take for example the amazing, ominous riffing groove at around 4 minutes on the final track, just so awfully tasteful. Still, I would’ve have liked Mortiferum to have added some spice to their compositional methodology and perhaps included some more instrumental variation. All of this notwithstanding, Mortiferum have crafted a promising 36 minute debut, which, although somewhat homogenous or uninventive at times, featured admirable performances, great riffs and some truly entertaining moments. All of this bodes well for Mortiferum’s future, for they are indubitably talented and certainly capable of writing great songs, especially if they are to expand their artistic horizons further. I’m excited to see what they will offer us next!