1. I am;
2. I am becoming;
3. The name of God.
I’m going to take a shot in the dark here: You like Black Metal, right? You’ve definitely stumbled upon the wrong site if you don’t, but that’s not my point. What exactly do you like about it? When you really strip everything away, the layers that swathe and shape it, what lies at the dark core for you? For me at least and I’m sure for many of you, the USBM duo of Mystic Yautja and Ominous seem to have struck an arrow deep into that perfect core with their project Mortum.
After honing their black art for over ten years, their second full-length ‘Eheieh Chaos’ was originally self released last October but is now seeing an appropriately limited cult release through the great Fólkvangr Records. Comprised of four new tracks and three re-recordings from older summonings you’d be forgiven for expecting some jarring difference in songwriting, but nope; the whole thing flows effortlessly along like the pitch black waters of the styx as it weaves its misanthropic web of mysticism.
But anyway, how does it hit this ‘perfect core’, you ask? I’ll try to explain. The demonic pair open with ‘Scourge of Suffering’, which is one of the aforementioned re-recordings and was originally from their last release, 2015’s ‘Ascending Calamity’. If you’ve heard the original then the steps they’ve taken on this album will become immediately apparent. ‘Ascending Calamity’ was basically a demo quality recording. Aside from the great new introductory section of portentous monasterial chanting, here the sound has been beefed up again in all aspects. The guitars are a lot cleaner, allowing their diabolical tones to ring ever truer. Removing some of the rawness of their last release somewhat paradoxically leaves everything exposed; it bares the heart of the material, and that heart is pure black.
For all the bells and whistles bands or artists throw in, black metal is ultimately about expressing a feeling or an ideal, a power. Mortum nail that power as simply as possible. Just check out the drumming on ‘An Elegaic Hymn to Death’; over the evolution of the composition it only does exactly what is needed, nothing more, nothing less. The guitars aren’t overly complicated and the melodies aren’t either but it’s perfectly effective; just like pronouncing the necessary magickal words of an incantation correctly, all the elements click together in exactly the right way to summon the intended arcane forces.
That may be a half-cocked explanation but hopefully you catch my drift. This isn’t a ‘dazzling’ album. It’s not flashy. These guys aren’t breaking any molds. However, when it boils down to it, this arguably is the mold. They simply know how to make great black fucking metal… And I like it.
Out tomorrow, 29th June, through Fólkvangr Records.