Thursday, December 4, 2014
Mortuary Drape: "Spiritual Independence"
Although they have been around for thirty years, my history with the band dates back five years ago when I read an interview with Erik of Watain, who cited them as an influence. One of the oldest black metal bands is breaking ten years of silence. I have been hunting this album for some time, before I could not take it any more and broke down to contact the band. I am glad that I did because i need this one in my life. The creepy gothic intro lands into "Lithany", that is compared to the black metal of today, would feel more like classic metal. The backing vocals have the most in common with modern black metal, but I remember a time when bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide seemed like black at the time. One thing is glaringly evident is these guys come from a time when the emphasis is on songs. Every instrument counts here, there is not a note wasted, even the vocals have purpose rather than just being relegated to being an after thought, which is very common with harsher growls.
Drummer Wildness Perversion, the bassist really shines on "Once I Read" . The song picks up into more of a thrash. feel. On "Natural Death" they show their influence on black metal, with the dark cadence they let the chords ring out with. Their songs effortless flow like the river Styx in darker waters. The ritualistic elements bands like Watain took inspiration from are evident. It would be pretty impressive to see Wildness pull off these growls while playing drums live, as his drumming is pretty intricate at times. Most of the solos default to what you expect more from a death metal album or someone like Dissection who it's clear these guys had an influence on. I have a pretty high threshold for evil so if a song gives me the evil chills that means they are serious about what's going on.
They chug through "Mortal Remains" with authority. This song also has the one guitar solo on it that really stands out to me. Like most of the songs it weaves it way through an array of dynamics and retains the bands trademark to sacrifice babies not melody at their altar of metal. There is an odd groove to "Immutable Witness" which appears to be one of the rare moments on this album that has to grow on where most songs grab me right from the first few chords. I like how the vocals are layered on the chorus and the bass line. They keep digging deeper for more macabre sounds and continue to find them on "Ignis Fatuus". It does eventually wind it's way into a straight up galloping rocker, though the bass player plays around the riff keeping a unique twist on it.
They do hit you straight on with the thrashy "1600 Gnostic Year". Even then it shifts the riffs around in the writhing manner of New Order Testament. The vocals also fall back onto accenting the punches in a more traditional manner, The band don't take the easy way out and bring back the doomish delight. The solo break hits the song in a similar fashion as Altars of Madness" Morbid Angel. They take a very deliberate approach to the title track. They layer the vocals with some cool effects. The band never has to sort to hiding behind the blistering speeds of blast beats. The chorus to this song doesn't punch out of the song like some, but it creates it's own atmosphere and winds to fiendishly alluring corners of hell. The song ends with vocals that are very King Diamond, which I can see Don't Break the Oath" era Mercyful Fate being a big influence on these guys, in terms of feel, the vocals never stray from their lower yet articulate growls.
I have no problem giving this album a ten, some of the more straight up thrash moments which might not have immediately resonated with me were counterbalanced with the beautifully creepy sounds this album abounds with. If you like old school death or black metal with serious occult trappings then this is an album not to miss.