"Feral energy focused to a point"

April 22, 2016


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Not for lack of trying, I still know very little about Mortichnia.  Here is what I have so far: they are an Irish group, their current label is Apocalyptic Witchcraft, and they are aptly recommended to fans of Deathspell Omega, MGLA, Altar of Plagues, Bethlehem & Leviathan.  As far as an actual bio goes, you'll only find this brief summary: "Mortichnia formed. Coalescence betrays intent, yet sombre heralds bear illumination into the abyss. Within murk, a downward spiral, culmination of endless contraction, a feral energy focused to a point."  Heebie Jeebies.

Mysterious background aside, Mortichnia brings it where it counts: the music.  The style is a clever and signature mixture of post and black metal that goes well beyond a simple genre fusion.  I hear elements of countrymen Altar of Plagues on their final album, but ultimately the guitars and atmosphere more closely resemble that of Ulcerate.  Riffs have the same tenuous grip on both melody and dissonance, all mixed together with a certain technical element in both drums and guitar.  Mind you this is not NEARLY as mathematically proficient, but the resulting aesthetic of despair and suffocation is quite similar.

Vocals favor a somewhat distant, reverb-tinged shriek; as if the vocalist is screaming from infinity.  It's an approach fairly familiar to groups like Ghost Bath and Deafheaven, but I argue making it a successful one is a careful management process.  One must be distant and harsh enough to be dark an incomprehensible, but maintain enough strength and presence to exert authority and some level of fear.  Once again, Mortichnia excels in this balance.  And when joined with the aforementioned haunting quality of the music, they are much closer to sharing the stage with Pale Chalice and Animus Mortus than the more "hipster" crowd.

If you would indulge me in making just one more band comparison, I'd throw Tool into the mix.  For one, compositions are on the longer side ranging from around 9 to 14 minutes.  Compositions continue to grow, shift, and ultimately engage throughout their duration with a similar flair for simple-yet-effective textures and hooks.  Mortichnia are never repetetive, and they utilize similar guitar effects like delay in the same style you often hear from Adam Jones on classic tracks like "Schism."  "Carrion Proclamation" is a prime example if you were looking to get lost in an existentialist journey today.

All said and done, I am very excited by Heir To Scoria And Ash, and consider it to be my favorite post metal excursion so far in 2016.  It is an enjoyable experience from start to finish and showcases a band capable of filling the gap I feel has been left with the loss of Altar of Plagues.  More importantly, Mortichnia do this on their own terms, never recycling a simple, tired sound.  Instead, they pay homage to some of our more recent heroes while creating something that is their own.