Monday, November 3, 2014

Mortals - Cursed to See the Future

Written by Justin C.

Artwork by Mike Lawrence

I hate to call Mortals' album Cursed to See the Future a "grower," because I found it immediately likable on first listen. The riffs are plentiful, the vocals are beastly, and the rhythm section is always on point. But I found that on repeated listens, this album has transcended my original mental categorization of "Another solid, off-the-beaten-path metal album" and moved firmly into "How are they so good?" territory.

Mortals 2012. Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

Mortals mix up doom, death, black, classic metal, and probably other things that I haven't put my finger on yet. The more I listen, the more I hear. Check out the album's second track, "Epocryphal Gloom." It starts with a slow, classic doom riff, full of foreboding but still sporting a cool, major-key twist. They ride with that for a while before exploding into full, blackened fury. Even then they're not done with their tricks, though, because I caught a distinct hint of Motörhead riffing later on in the song. It's not just amazing that they make this work at all--what's truly impressive is that listening to this album, I never had the sense that I was listening to some kind of genre-bending mash-up. It sounds like Mortals, and I'd be hard pressed to pick out another band making this kind of mix sound so coherent and well blended.

Mortals 2012. Photos © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

It doesn't hurt that they've got both deeper gutturals and blackened shrieks amply covered, and the guitar riffs offer a study in how to compose for the guitar. If kids were ripping out Mortals riffs at Guitar Center instead of the horrible things they usually do, the world would be a better place. I also really enjoy listening to how the (audible!) bass interplays with the guitar and drums, effortlessly moving back and forth, and how the drums in turn complement the guitar and bass. It's a full-band interactivity that you expect to hear from a seasoned jazz quartet, but that's unfortunately often lacking in the rock spectrum. Like Zombiefication, Mortals has a gem of an album that should be getting a lot more attention.

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Tagged with 2014, black metal, John Mourlas, Justin C, Mortals, Relapse Records, sludge metal
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