Mental Cruelty
Zwielicht


4.0
excellent

Review

by Halez USER (79 Reviews)
June 23rd, 2023 | 89 replies


Release Date: 06/23/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pain Remains, done better

Mental Cruelty is just another name on the list of deathcore bands who had a member with allegations against them that ended up stepping away as a result. In 2022, weeks before signing with Century Media, former vocalist Lucca Schmerler was dismissed due to his allegations of misconduct. In his place comes a guy named Lukas Nicolai. I can’t speak on Lucca’s quality as a vocalist, but after listening to Zwielicht, I think it’s fair to at the very least say that Lukas is a fine enough replacement unless somehow Lucca was on levels no other deathcore vocalist has hit.

See, this band plays a very symphonically focused brand of deathcore, not unlike the likes of Lorna Shore. It’s an easy comparison to make - Lukas here isn’t far off from the Will Ramos school of vocal gymnastics, and there’s a lot of moments here that invoke vibes similar to Pain Remains. A lot of the positives from that album can be applied equally here; the symphonic blackened elements on tracks like “Nordlys” and “Forgotten Kings” are on full display, bearing similarities to songs like “Soulless Existence” off last year’s offering from Lorna. It’s not quite as vast in its scope and grandiose as that album, but what it lacks in the overall “epic-ness” it makes up for in its focused feeling and higher attention to structure. It feels less deathcore and more symphonic black metal, and if you just muddy up the production a bit and reduce the breakdown count, it probably wouldn’t feel too out of place being, say, a Panopticon album instead.

Another thing that stands out is the sparse use of clean vocals, which add an extra element of variety to the album. Zwielicht is at its best at its most melodic; lead single “Symphony of a Dying Star” was maligned in some circles for the singing, but it was that song that struck my initial interest in giving this band a go finally. There’s not a lot of it here, so if you’re not a fan of Lukas’ tone or the idea of clean singing in deathcore in general, you’ll only need to worry about the lead single and “Obsessis a Daemonio” really. His harsh vocals are great, and they shine best on tracks like “The Arrogance of Agony” and the second half of “Pest” where he strays away from the vocal gymnastics and just does what serves the song.

Unfortunately, some of the issues that marred Pain Remains are present here, albeit not as strongly. “Pest” in particular has this really out of place breakdown that kills all the momentum in the first half, only for it to recover rather gracefully towards the end. Breakdowns aren’t a bad thing, but the completely jarring nature of some of them can really drive a nail into the fast pace in which Zwielicht thrives. It’s thankfully nowhere near as ever-present here, but it’s something worth mentioning that holds the album back from being as great as it could be. In a way it feels like it’s almost there.

The second half is undoubtedly stronger than the first; everything “Nordlys” onwards feels like a fully-realized version of the concept Lorna Shore was going for, but just simply better. Closer “A Tale of Salt and Light” is epic in the way the three-parter “Pain Remains” wanted to be, only truly being let down by the abrupt ending. “The Arrogance of Agony” has some of Lukas’ best vocals. The guitar work and drumming is superb throughout, and if they would just tighten up a little bit more, Mental Cruelty could easily be the band to watch out for.

Overall, Zwielicht impressed me. While there’s definitely some structural issues, mostly in the first half, the second half truly is as grandiose as it wants to be. The production is slick, the riffs are solid, the symphonics are well-put together, and the clean vocals, while not as prominent as I may have hoped, are a great break from the all-out chaos in other parts of the album. In no uncertain terms, this is essentially Pain Remains, done better than Pain Remains.



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user ratings (106)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
veninblazer
June 23rd 2023


16839 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stream link: https://open.spotify.com/album/2KYHW0qffmoyIQe9JibNIu?si=BNGLBDlGRHGfIDrylTP_SQ

Was not expecting to put a 4 on this today but stranger things have happened. also i fucking misspelled the name of the album every time I wrote it and had to fix it lol

MoM
June 23rd 2023


5994 Comments


Definitely gonna give this a shot! Liking what I’m hearing so far! Absolutely curbstomps Lorna Shore in terms of style

Pikazilla
June 23rd 2023


30042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

best symphonic deathcore band around and it's not even close

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
June 23rd 2023


26275 Comments


couldn’t even make it past one track honestly. this is someone’s thing but it absolutely ain’t mine.

veninblazer
June 23rd 2023


16839 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah like if it wasn't for the breakdowns I kind of would almost class this as straight up symphoblack, it's a really cool vibe.

@Hyperion: i kind of expected to be down on this too tbh

Tundra
June 23rd 2023


9802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Pretty clearly better than Pain Remains, love the lushness to a lot of these soundscapes, sounds more epic than anything LS could conjure up

Tundra
June 23rd 2023


9802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Alright well I shouldn't have really preemptively said that when I was only a couple songs in, still very much follows the blueprint of LS a little too closely for my liking, quite good but I wish it had more the folky orchestral parts like the intro of Pest

ZoddHand
June 23rd 2023


229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

What pika said

veninblazer
June 23rd 2023


16839 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this is good shit, it's like the LS playbook got updated with less of what I dislike about their new style.

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2023


4979 Comments


Excellent rev Venin

veninblazer
June 24th 2023


16839 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks KungFu!

Durrzo
June 24th 2023


3317 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm so mad at the breakdowns for holding this back from near perfection. It's still amazing though.

Purpl3Spartan
June 24th 2023


8696 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bangs yeah

Get Low
June 24th 2023


14334 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Another blackened deathcore band with no unique traits or interesting qualities

Purpl3Spartan
June 24th 2023


8696 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dope art

Tundra
June 24th 2023


9802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Symphony of a Dying Star is pretty cool

MalConstant
June 24th 2023


290 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think the She Must Burn album from last year does the whole symphonic deathcore sound way better than anyone around. That being said, this is a bit more enjoyable than Lorna Shore even if it treads rather closely to that sound.

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
June 24th 2023


1820 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^Big agree with the She Must Burn comment. Album art is super sick as well.

Durrzo
June 24th 2023


3317 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I love SMB but I think their style is so different from these guys or Lorna that it's hard to compare them as something within the same niche, despite them both all technically being symphonic deathcore.

MalConstant
June 24th 2023


290 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, if someone wanted a band that sounded like Lorna, then I would recommend these guys; However, if someone wanted a symphonic deathcore band then I'd probably suggest SMB.



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