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Mortals – Death Ritual EP by orlandooom407

I am regularly taken aback by the sheer amount / volume of brilliant music coming from NY, specifically Brooklyn. Whether it be doom sludge mavericks Hull, or electrifying black metal trios such as Mortals, or even the highly divisive Liturgy, there is obviously a vibrant and diverse environment in Brooklyn, and we in ‘The City Beautiful’ are grateful whenever they take the time to shimmy their way on down the east coast to pay us a visit. Such was the case when I was lucky enough to see Mortals here in Orlando, and was so floored to the point of being inspired to vomit up the very review your eyes are currently drinking in. Death Ritual is a thousand pound two track assault, of which those two tracks complement each other in pristine accord. Not so much in a yin and yang kind of way (they are not what I would consider opposites), more like two dual frenzied sprinters tunneling forth to the same finish line with a maniacal intent at rapid pace. There really is not let up to the constant assault in both of these tracks, while at the same time it never seems to be too busy or lose any of its momentum, a hard balance to strike, and one Mortals achieves with finesse employing a combination of riffs that are both dark in their scathing harmonies as well as some that are just catchy and fun as hell to listen to.

The title track opens as something of cataclysmic tidal wave. That wave crashes upon you without a moments reprieve, and you are ever the grateful for it. The thick sludged out bass wrapping itself homogeneously around the relentless percussion and melodic and methodical cries and riffs. Their ability to transition from something so grooved out and catchy and down tempo as the aforementioned riff and then move into a blistering and hypnotic dark sea of torrid landscapes, is something we (those musicians among us at least) could and should all learn from.  The logo for Mortals features a blade assuming the role of the letter “T” in the bands’ moniker, and it is almost as if you can feel that very blade being jammed into your third eye, in the most enjoyable of ways of course.

I won’t lie; Final hour is easily my favorite track of the two, which is evident in how many times I destroyed the replay button before purchasing it from their Bndcamp. The second track moves along at a crushing clip, with anthemic motifs chewing away at you instantly like a buzz saw. The riffs are eloquent and memorable, especially the opener that makes its distinct appearance at 0:04 and is probably my favorite singular riff in this whole EP. The 4 minute mark introduces another example of one of those riffs Mortals weaves into their writing that is just fun as all shit. The range that is covered is impressive, and the pacing (evident in the serpentine crescendo that starts to build up at 2:21 and ultimately explodes at 2:40 in this track) is phenomenal. Mortals command such impressive compositional control over their pacing throughout each moment of the song it really is hard not to be impressed with them.

Regarding their live performance, Mortals easily exceeds what you hear on the EP, an impressive feat, and a compliment to both their EP and their killer performance. There was not a moment during their live performance where I didn’t see Caryn (drums) without a sinister grin on her face, and that’s how they will forever be remembered by me, until the next time I’m fortunate enough to catch them.

Methodical, maniacal, bliss.

Mortals on Facebook!

– Kenneth Reda

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Imperial Triumphant – Abominamentvm by orlandooom407

“The order of the world is always right – such is the judgment of God. For God has departed, but he has left his judgment behind, the way the Cheshire cat left his grin.”

~ Jean Baudrillard

Thematically, Imperial Triumphant’s latest release, and first full-length album, is shown provocatively on the album cover itself. Christ hangs crucified not to a cross, but to a gigantic and filthy-looking engine with what could be a pair of large machines or simply extensions of the engine itself. The message here seems to be that Christian ideology subjugates and renders slavish its subjects in the same manner as the machines and technologies of the modern world dominate peoples’ lives and fates. Screens absorb the masses into seductive virtual hallucinations while millions are driven out of their jobs and purposes towards society at large by machines and robotic replacements. It is rare to see anyone now without a computer small enough to fit in their pocket, and even rarer to see one of these people not neurotically attached to such a device, depending on it for everything from communication to navigation and pornography. To travel anywhere in most civilized areas, one needs to depend on a car, or some form of mechanized transportation. To not be utterly and completely detached from the happenings of the world, one needs a virtual connection to our vast virtual repository of information: the Internet. Mankind may have created machines, but machines now rule mankind, and as Baudrillard would put it, the object now rules the subject.

Technology, in its cold rule over humans by their dependence on it, is a kind of extension of the abstract rule of an ideology like Christianity, taking the weak and addicting them.Did mankind not create both God and technology (perhaps unconsciously) for that express purpose: to compensate for weakness and absolve sufferings? We are so burdened by our responsibility to our will and fate that we must give it away to something else, so obsessed with production and surplus that we must minimize the time spent doing every possible activity (through technology of course) in order to keep up with the world, which accelerates with this very technological progress as its engine. The situation seems unbreakable whereby man creates technology to increase production and reduce the time needing to be spent on a particular act, but ends up over-working himself rather than gaining anything at all, because the extra time gained from these concatenations are simply spent on further activities, and the cycle continues ad nauseum. We are crucified by what we created to liberate and enable us. The same way Christian morality and metaphysics turn its followers into a herd of slaves (if they were not already), technology eventually comes to dominate its users and turn them into slaves dependent on its power and the comfort it brings to their lives, much like faith and resignation to an abstract all-loving and eternally-just God. Further, in the same way capital displaces the value of things and transfers them into an abstract endlessly-modular and exchangeable unit (money), the ideas of Heaven and God and similar abstract sources for value rob the natural world of its own value by stating that value can only be located within a “beyond” or an intangible God.

In ‘Abominamentvm’’s lyrics and music, the cyberpunk fear of technology’s subjugation of mankind, and black metal’s essential rejection of Christian metaphysics and morality doing precisely the same thing, are combined in full force. The overall pace of the album is very discordant and seems heavily inspired by the almost free jazz progression styles of other third-wave black metal bands like Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, with songs sometimes lacking any discernable structure during various points. The bass playing is very impressive in this album and on a few songs even breaks out into a bass-driven solo where the bass is usually pushed almost to the very back layers of the song. Despite these strengths, the music is so discordant that those with a taste for distinct melodies and song structures will only find those so-often within the songs. Discordant songs tend to run together and leave the listener with no distinct memory or idea of what they have listened to, which while interesting left me with little desire to hear any particular song again.

I feel the strongest songs on the album are ‘Manifesto’, ‘Crushing the Idol’, and ‘S.P.Q.R.’ which all have some pretty solid and technically fascinating progressions, even with the overall discordant embrace in which the songs are played. Again the bass solos and general bass prominence, along with unconventional sounds like air raid sirens, sound very interesting within a metal song. When the riffs are rolling they remind me of Marduk’s militant and pounding black metal style, and often the riffs will start after a nice drop-off in the song’s structure, carrying that much more impact. There are well-made and atmospheric transitions throughout as well, and they really help to drive home the palpable feeling of a terrifying “deus ex machina” future of mankind, sounding at times like the aftermath of war, and at other times like the harkening to a dark future. While I don’t aesthetically care for the discordant dissonance on this album, it does certainly fit the theme; it evokes the image of furious and free barbarians of the future reclaiming a world enslaved by religion and technology through hate, sweat, violence and fire.

– Maher