Review Summary: Tormented soundscapes
When it comes to death-doom it's all about the band's ability to carry the listener into whatever dimension they're in at the moment, be it of a cavernous, spacey, or metaphysical nature. With a formula that mostly employs US and Finnish old-school death metal, Mortiferum belongs to a narrow niche of those who can effectively infuse atmosphere into their music without relying exclusively on it. This is due not only to the quartet's technical ability but also to their predisposition to build songs that orbit interesting riffs and intricate rhythm sections. Alex Mody's drumming was actually what impressed me the most on their 2019’s debut album, Disgorged from Psychotic Depths
, at least at first listening. His organic signature (which despite its intricacy never delves into overly technical territory) lends an extra dynamic to a style that usually prefers more static foundations. I would even say that despite the multiple doom soundscapes, the band always finds interesting ways to cross its borders without ever losing stylistic coherence. These round trips are probably the feature I enjoy most in Mortiferum’s formula, something that thankfully still endures in Preserved in Torment
Revolving around death, apocalypse, and divine punishment, Preserved in Torment
mirrors the band's view on the state of the world today, namely its perpetual state of agony, using the same ingredients as its predecessor. Doom segments mingle with fast tempos in a meticulously balanced layout that continues to showcase the band's aforementioned influences. While 'Caudex of Flesh' harks back to Mortiferum's American muddy roots, the imposing closing track, 'Mephitis of Disease', proudly boasts the Finnish spirit, notably through its epic Adramelech-ish riff, which ranks among the album's highlights. Alex Mody's engaging drumming, with its distinctive ride cymbal bell sound, keeps providing the dynamic foundation upon which memorable riffs orbit uninterruptedly. Not only does the band sound more inspired than ever, but also presents greater ambiance given the airy production that grants space between the protagonists. The overwhelming opener, 'Eternal Procession', and the subsequent 'Incubus of Bloodstained Visions' are both prime examples of the band's aesthetically enhanced state. The interplay between slow-paced sections and blast beats acts as a single organism, effortlessly moving through its comfort zone.
Preserved in Torment
sees the band at the top of their game, and quite frankly, I wouldn't expect anything less. At this point, only a few can do it quite like these guys. Mortiferum's ability to craft tormented soundscapes through a dynamic yet harmonious palette is something to behold. And while it doesn't present any innovative new tones, its decadent scent will linger for years to come.