Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mandatory - Where They Bleed

Germany has never been one of those elite death metal brothels where you could pick any whore and expect a good time. No, Germany is more like a small strip in some unknown Nigerian city where no matter which lady you go with, you can expect to get some sort of lethal disease. Unlike New York, Florida and Sweden circa 1992, Germany has never been a death metal hot bed, but Mandatory surely take the Swedish death metal style and run with it, crafting three songs worthy of a place in the higher rankings of Swedish death metal bands. Though only an EP, "Where They Bleed" is sure to crush many listeners with it's brutal heaviness and rhythmic prowess (see "Crypta Crawler's" pounding old school Swedish breakdowns for proof) and snare the minds of the unsuspecting with the infectious riffs and deadly melodies.

Opening With an eerie introductory track, "Where They Bleed" wastes no time setting a mood for the evil that follows. The intro conjures images of haunted halls, stretching on endless lit only by the light of the lunar gods and the candelabras burning along the cold stone walls. If you feel yourself becoming anxious or uneasy, that's a good thing and Mandatory desire you to run screaming in the cold night air. Just when you begin to feel safe, when you see the light at the end of the hall, and you reach for it, ready to step into the crisp morning air, get in your car and leave the haunted maze of tunnels and labyrinthine rooms, you are hit with a wall of evil spells and rituals ending any notion of escaping.

"Where They Bleed" is one of the hardest hitting death metal songs I've heard. It shows how death metal can be written to be catchy, deadly, intense and daresay I, enjoyable for even mainstream human failures. The riffs and instrumental sections are beautiful, such as the lead halfway through the song, and crafted with sincerity in every note. Mandatory are playing like they are at the forefront of all that is death metal. Sascha Besalt and Steffen Rottle have the ability to write killer songs and riffs and play awesome leads and memorable hooks. Drummer Stinne handles vocal duties in top form, taking basically everything that made Entombed and Grave great and following in their stead to awesome ends. He demolishes the drum kit at the same time. Adrian Kostrzewski lays down a walloping low end - so important in the Swedish sound - and does it perfectly. He's not breaking the bass speed records or sweeping sixty-fourth notes on his four thousand string bass, but he does exactly what these songs require and pumps out massive heaviness.

Briefly, "Where They Bleed" is the standout. Though the other two songs must be mentioned as well. "Crypta Crawler" has a mean-spirited streak and powerful rhythms, a characteristic mimicked in "Obscure Mortification." All tracks are easily recognizable, unique and evoke feelings of rotting, festering ancient corpses stalking down the last humans on earth and using their bodies to perform archaic rituals. "Obscure Mortification" has a specific Kataklysm rhythmic style. The disc also comes with a cover of Razor's Cross Me Fool" played intoxicated with blistering noise - just the way it should be. Awesome choice of a cover. This is a worthy demo / EP to nab if you can get it for a few bucks but its worth at least as much as you paid for any of your Dismember albums. Especially for the title track which drains the blood from just about every other death metal song that's been released in the past fifteen years.

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