The Ajna Offensive, 2014
9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki
On their 2007 debut-album “De Contemplanda Morte” Mortuus (physically from Umeå, Sweden) offered to the fires one of the most atmospheric and upscale “religious / spiritual” black metal yet to be heard. To me it sounded at first like a slower version (although going fast at times, but working better at slower pace) of the similar perhaps typical Swedish stuff (embodied in bands like Funeral Mist or Dissection), or maybe a more Watainic version of the old Norwegian Thorns. This album was excellent on all areas. The Swedes always have had class and style in all genres of music, that’s for sure.
On their awaited second full-length seven years later, Mortuus delivers quite the similar tasting wine with a very slight new differences in mouthfeel and aroma.
What makes Mortuus interesting is their use of personal rhythmic stroking or picking guitar riffs in conjunction with quite minimalist drumbeats. In comparison to the older material, I might be hearing a bit more damping riffs here as well. Almost hypnotic in repetition, this music is the perfect black metallic version of a meditative ritual, which most likely is one of their agendas in the first place.
Although very simple in basic nature (with no extra technicalities), the drums are played with great skill and feeling. Each song has it’s own feelings / personal beats, enough to separate the individual vessels from each other on this tree growing in it’s beautiful negative plane.
The vocals are again truly majestic yet suffering, raspy shouting full of feeling, a pleasure to hear at all times. Although relying almost solely on the riffs, vocals and drums, a piano part or choirs suddenly appearing increases the atmosphere tremendously.
The sounds are quite similar to the older recordings, just the right amount of reverb and distortion to keep your mind warm and “cozy” in that ritual chamber, inside that magick circle the music creates.
The lyrics – dealing in my mind mostly in Satanic / Luciferian, Gnostic and Qliphotic themes – are written in the same vein as before, intelligent and full of spiritual feeling. Biblical in nature, bringing us to the roots of the whole “Satanic” ideology. This is as far from the superficial “metal evilness” as true Gnosticism or Kabbalah is from literal interpretations of “modern” Christianity. At least in my book.
I’ve always been aware of the greatness of Mortuus, but these days I definitely worship (with) the band. One of the better ones, in the increasing ocean of bands doing this kind of stuff, but the truly honest and strong ones will endure.