Saturday, June 28, 2014
Mortalicum - Tears From The Grave
I would put it like this: if The Endtime Prophecy were Pentagram, then Tears From The Grave would be Day of Reckoning. It's a different vibe, a more relaxed feel in sound and production. Perhaps Patrick Backlund's very noticeable bass on this record draws out that smoothness and fluidity. The clarity is excellent and the production and mixing are superbly done but Henrik's vocals can at times be pushed too far back in the mix and taking the backseat, especially in songs like "Spirits Of The Dead" and "The Passage." Even so, with the great separation between instruments, it's astounding how 'together' Mortalicum sound on this release. They fill in the record really well and something as minor and unnoticeable for most listeners won't affect the overall effect this album should have. Andreas Häggström's drums are very natural sounding, with little done their overall timbre. The kick drum is particularly massive and the cymbals are bright. The clarity is very noticeable during moments of harmony and leads. Each note can be the focus of attention.
Highlights for me are very definite, as they had been on Mortalicum's previous two albums. "The Endless Sacrifice" is a top-quality starter with a huge memorable intro riff and resounding chorus. It's very similar as a starter on this album as "Guiding Star" was on Progress of Doom - starting us off very doomy and primes the album. "I Dream Of Dying," other than being another of those-cult-classic in the making tracks, shows Mortalicum sweeping through one of the grandest instrumental sections of their catalog yet. Both screaming leads, solos and a mellowed out Sabbathesque transitional section akin to the middle of "Damnation of the Soul" off Progress of Doom are expertly paired together like a fine wine and entrée. "I Am Sin" is also a huge track, though once again mid-tempo, moments impress a sense of urgency and energy. The verse riffs end with bluesy guitar runs. Sweeping choruses once again appear here also. In addition, the lyrics across the album are generally well written as well and worth some time. "The Passage"'s are particularly of interest to me, as we've all contemplated our own demise and the life beyond. The subject matter in the other songs is also similar but each song focuses on something a little different, the angles and perspectives shedding different light on death, dying, being dead, laying in coffins and other funerary interests. It's standard fare, yes. But it's done really well and with heart.
This is a strong album. Tears From The Grave is confident in itself and it's contents. While there are comparisons that can be made, it really doesn't need them to be enjoyable, or described and I'd expect less name-dropping of similar bands and groups from reviewers that take the time to listen deeply to this album. While The Endtime Prophecy may be a slightly better album overall, with Tears From The Grave, Mortalicum have honed their sound ever-so-slightly without losing ground with their penchant for excellently composed songs and memorable moments. It's easy to feel the weight of Mortalicum here both through the instrumental material as well as the subject matter. You can get the feeling that these are three guys from a down out in bumblefuck Sweden that live dark and morose lives but In reality, this is a band of three genuinely nice guys that can really pump out some quality heavy doom that is dark, thoughtful and engaging.