Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mortalicum - Tears from the Grave

Okay, so what do you get when you take one part Sir Lord Baltimore, one part classic Black Sabbath and mix it with a combination of Trouble and Robin Trower...maybe throw in a touch of Mahogany Rush? Yeah, I know, right? What you get is Mortalicum, some of the best heavy/doom metal/hard rock I've heard since the long forgotten days of the 70s. Another reminder of the good old days is the fact that this is a power trio...although they did not start that way. Formed in 2006, this (as of 2013) trio of Swedes has released their third full length album, Tears from the Grave. These guys rely on good old fashioned proto-metal and hard rock riffs that just slay. The result is one of the finest albums of the genre.

One thing about this band is their use of heavy blues infested proto-metal riffs mixed with some damn fine guitar solos. This is considered doom in some respects due to those heavy riffs but that's only partially accurate because there are many more dimensions to this band. Coming right out of the gate is "The Endless Sacrifice" is a mid paced song which just slays from beginning to end with crushing riffs and massive solos. The vocals are in a mid range and not too flashy but compliment the song perfectly. "I Dream of Dying" slows it down a bit with some massive doom riffs that are heavy as fuck but do not take away that proto-metal sound. On this one, the band relies on more of a bluesy doom sound and the solos are just oozing with wah-wah effects while having so much soul and feeling. The middle of the song has this part that is a Robin Trower type bluesy solos with just bass and soft drums mixed in. If this doesn't have you breaking out your bong, I don't know what will! Seriously, this is just classy old school metal that doesn't sound dated but is a modern take on the music I grew up on.

The rest of the album is just as monstrous as those first two songs. The riffs don't stop coming and the melodies are just infectious. They mix it up a bit as a few of the songs are shorter numbers that just blast you and then they have epic monsters that are eight, nine, and even eleven minutes long. The title track is the elven minute track that is just epic and bluesy. I'm not a huge fan of long doom songs but since these guys don't just rely on doom riffs alone, this song has a lot going on and keeps your interest. The vocal melodies and the choruses are catchy and add to the dimensions of this album. Once again those solos make the songs. They combine that old school hard rock solo with modern metal elements thrown in to keep this from sounding dated or that they are trying too hard to be "retro." This isn't retro because they write songs that let you know that they feel this music, not just play it because it's cool to be retro. Songs like "I Am Sin" is the perfect example of music you can feel. Clocking in and eight minutes this epic monster rates high on the goose bump scale with it's killer Sabbath inspired riffs and epic melodies. This is doom at it's finest.

The shorter songs just crush you before you even know what the fuck hit you. Songs like "Spirits of the Dead" and "The Passage" are mid tempo songs that rely on those pounding riffs. The former has some Sabbath inspired riffs and then just under a minute in they throw in some fuckin' cowbell! Okay, I just flashed back to my teens for a second...MORE COWBELL!! Anyway, these songs are just more examples of this band's ability to write songs that take you away and make you remember everything you ever loved about metal music. This type of music can only work if the songwriting is top notch and this band can write songs and they can execute them with precision and class. Their influences are obvious but they have the ability to put their own identity to these songs. You may think of Sabbath or Trouble when you hear some of these songs but you never forget that these are Mortalicum songs.

I'm not the biggest doom fan in the world and it seems I'm more inclined towards the epic and classic doom. This band is the doom metal I love, if indeed they can be pigeonholed into one certain genre and, to me, they can't. If you like your doom with a touch of proto-metal and 70s rock then this is the album for you. And if you are an old fart, like me, this will suit you even better. Actually, if you enjoy metal at all, this album is essential.


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