By Dr. Abner Mality
Sweden’s MORTUUS is a very, very serious black metal band, approaching the genre with furrowed brow and much intellectual probing. The band has its connections to Swedish stalwarts like ONDSKAPT and OFERMOD, which promises much. They are not a band who are into cosplay and doing a lot of dressup.
While that’s admirable, “Diablerie” could have really used an injection of evil and rage. The album has four long songs that mostly offer slow, glacial tones and introspection. It just doesn’t light a fire in the listener, even though you can tell they spent time on songwriting. The first song “Threefold Harrowing of Hell” is the best and most unpredictable, mixing fast and slow tempos to good effect. There’s a lot of German mystic mumbo jumbo going on the in the background. The title track starts like a black Swedish blowtorch but slows down to those jangly, slower freezing tones.
And that’s where MORTUUS stays. “In Graves Remote, Even the Worthless Have Meaning” has a long, pretentious title and turns into a long, pretentious song, slow and murky all the way through. This is pretty close to the “depressive” black metal subgenre, one which I had hoped had breathed its last. The last song “Furnace of Sleep” starts with more of the same but does build to a very powerful and atmospheric mid-section, which should have really been the climax. Instead, the return to the original turgid pace.
Yes, MORTUUS take what they do very seriously, but honestly, this record just needs more energy. No, it doesn’t have to be a blazing bonfire all the way through, but black metal at a doomy pace is very hard to pull off and these guys don’t really do it.