Mortuary Drape - Black Mirror review
|Release date:||November 2023|
01. Restless Death
02. The Secret Lost
03. Ritual Unction
04. Drowned In Silence
05. Into The Oblivion
06. Rattle Breath
07. Nocturnal Coven
08. Mistress Of Sorcerer
09. The Unburied
10. Fading Flowers Spell
11. Black Mirror
Some rot goes back a long time ago, but rotting is a continuous process. Mortuary Drape are still rotting.
It isn't as common knowledge as I wish that black metal was a pretty spread out movement even before the Norwegian scene erupted. Sure, the concept of "first wave of black metal" exists but a lot of the acts outside of Venom, Bathory, and Celtic Frost rarely get mentioned, and those that do are bands who weren't really black metal anyway, like Mercyful Fate or any thrash metal band that has a more evil sounding album at the right time. In my race to the 666th review I covered pretty famous landmark first wave albums but also obscure releases and underrated classics and it is sometimes the case that a band would release demos in the 80s but not actually make it to the full length phase until later on. It happened with Törr. It happened with Master's Hammer. It happened with Mortuary Drape.
As far as the Italian scene of the time goes, it is Bulldozer that gets the most attention, even if that's still barely any by worldwide standards, but acts like Necrodeath, Death SS, and Schizo were also around to fill the space between heavy metal, thrash metal, and the emerging extreme metal sound. In comes Mortuary Drape. The band's most famous release is their debut full length All The Witches Dance from 1994, and while that's an unsung classic in its own right, one that feels anachronistically olden and rotted by 1994's standards in black metal, it doesn't reveal the fact that the band was active from much earlier. Formed in 1986 and releasing demos in 1987, 1989, and 1992, taking this in mind paints a more complete picture both of why All The Witches Dance sounded as olden as it did, and how long Mortuary Drape have been rotting.
While the band never really broke up, but lineups weren't exactly unstable, and the band only had two other albums in the past twenty years. The band's lineup has been pretty stable since 2010 though (even if the only original member is the vocalist), and they also released a pretty good EP last year, and all signs pointing towards Black Mirror being pretty neat. But enough history lessons, let's talk about the actual album. No big surprise in the fact that the black metal on display here is more in line with heavy and thrash metal than anything second wave-ish. There's a lot of emphasis on riffing, the solos are quite melodic, the bass is pretty punchy and quite bouncy at times too, and the pace sits quite comfortably in the mid paces, and Wildness Perversion's vocals sound like embodied rot. That's the gist of it.
But that's not quite all. There are some things that feel pretty specific to this release (though take my words with a grain of salt since I'm not super well versed in their discog). For one the production is quite clean for a record whose main appeal is that certain raw feeling, and it would be interesting to hear it with something that emphasizes that rawness, but as it stands the vocals do carry most of the rawness without necessarily sounding at odds with how clean the instrumentals sound. There are a lot of moments outside the general mid-paced thrashy black that benefit the most from this sort of production, and a lot of it comes down to these gloomy gothic moments that go hand in hand with the occult leaning that this specific Italian scene developed.
There's still plenty to appreciate about Mortuary Drape after nearly four decades of existence, even with that slight anachronistic feeling.
||Written on 16.11.2023 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
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