Review Summary: You can't deny the riff.
California's Mortal Wound is one of the legions of old school death metal worshipping bands that have arisen from the depths over the past decade or so, all with the hopes of striking gold by riding the underground wave. Signed to Maggot Stomp, one of the pre-eminent up-and-coming labels within the scene featuring bands such as Undeath, Sanguisugabogg, and 200 Stab Wounds at one point or another, Mortal Wound manages to distinguish itself from the heaving crowds using one tool and the spine of any death metal album worth its salt to near perfection – the riff.
In Forms of Unreasoning Fear
, they manage to backbone their aural assault with so many in just over twenty-four minutes that it becomes easy to forget that it is merely a demo and a first splash into the pool. One can draw Peter and Sam's influences from all over the history books, from the very Psychostasia
-esque and Consuming Impulse
-paralleled licks in "Burning Sulphur" and the beginning of "Iron Age Virility" to "Riddled With Parasites", which calls to mind early grindcore bludgeoning such as Terrorizer's World Downfall
and Repulsion's Horrified
. Manic solos occasionally pierce the cacophony created by Sam's squalid, guttural secrete and Erol's thrashy battering of the drumkit, but the remainder of the record is a love-letter to the riff-laden classics while maintaining a tinge of off-kilter originality and undeniable catchiness that begs for subsequent listens. As the relatively short affair is indeed a demo, there are a few humps and bumps along the way, mostly in the form of (unreasoning fear) rather jagged transitions in songwriting that remove some of the polish. However, the excellent mastering of the album – especially for a demo – helps smooth those out, with its "clean but dirty" aesthetic that brings out the most in what the band does best. Just in case that wasn't clear enough already, it is riff your f*cking face off
A most auspicious offering, Forms of Unreasoning Fear
is a blueprint of success for Mortal Wound. With some maturation, already shown on their 2020 split with Gutless (which you should also get your ass on), there's no doubt they can become a pillar of the new old school movement with time. The tendency to write riffs that matter
is something that doesn't come to just any artist in the pickings, but Mortal Wound accomplish that effortlessly. Therefore, I implore for a full length record s'il vous plait, for this plate of meat and potatoes hits the damn spot.