Mourning Soul – Ego Death – Ritual I
Location: Enna, Sicily
Italy’s Mourning Soul, formed in 2003, play a style of black metal that pays homage to the 90’s Scandinavian scene, with Dissection and Marduk being obvious influences. Despite being home to some of the earliest bands in the black metal genre, such as Bulldozer and Necrodeath, Italy hasn’t produced as many notable acts as their Scandinavian brethren. Still, it’s not the quantity, but the quality that counts, and Mourning Soul have certainly produced a quality record with their debut full-length, Ego Death – Ritual I.
Mixed and mastered by Magnus Andersson (bass player for Marduk), Ego Death – Ritual I is a dark, nihilistic piece of black metal. All three members of the band are credited as playing synths in addition to their main instruments, but make no mistake, Mourning Soul are neither a symphonic or industrial band. The synths are strictly used to create a moody, ambient atmosphere over the fierce, heavy black metal riffs, such as can be heard on tracks like “The Cold Embrace Calls Me.” Bassist/vocalist Sacrifice throws in some clean vocals on occasion, like on opening track “Salvation (To The Temple Of Knowledge),” but his approach to singing has the effect of making the music more nightmarish than melodic. The vocals, heavily doused in reverb, drone with each note hit, creating a hypnotic, surreal atmosphere, though it’s just far enough off the beaten path not everyone might be able to enjoy it.
The most nihilistic track of the lot is the plodding, depressive album closer, “The Judgement Of Gehenna.” The music builds up speed as the song progresses, going from doom-metal paced riffing, to speedy, black metal fury. The last 2 minutes of the album are absolutely chill-inducing, consisting of industrial/ambient synths, and clips from the actual Jonestown Death Tape. It’s pretty stomach turning, hearing the people screaming, knowing that it’s the voice of people that actually died, and makes for a very creepy, uncomfortable listen. Black metal bands have called themselves nihilistic for years, but Mourning Soul may actually be one of the few that actually live up to that title. If you like your black metal raw, hateful, with a bit of atmosphere, this is definitely a record worth checking out, though it is not, I repeat, NOT for the faint of heart.
Rorcal – Creon
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Label: Lost Pilgrim Records
I’ve had a soft spot for post-metal/atmospheric sludge/whatever you want to call it since I first heard Neurosis. I love the mixture of heavy, hardcore-influenced sludge with post-rock/shoegaze; I love the moodiness, heaviness, and the serenity in the quiet moments. Switzerland’s Rorcal remind me of everything that made me love this sound in the first place on their latest release, Creon.
Consisting of 4 rather lengthy tracks (fans of this genre should be used to long songs by now) that tell the story of famous Greek Mythological figure, King Creon. Sonically, Creon contains some of Rorcal’s heaviest material, with a healthy dose of black metal in the vein of Wolves In The Throne Room and Altar Of Plagues mixed in. The tone throughout the album is really thick, with a crushing bass tone giving the tremolo-picked guitar riffs a boost in the heaviness department, while the howling vocals manage to add an extra layer of brutality. The slower, doom elements of past releases aren’t entirely gone, but the slow passages are certainly fewer and far between. Rorcal have lost none of their ability to layer tone, they’re just doing it a much faster pace, giving the heaviness a sense of urgency that wasn’t present before. The final track is the closest to a doom track on Creon, with its slower drumming and crushing riffs, and even here, there is still some speed-picking guitar bits. The fast guitar riffs layered over the slower, heavy bass lines give each track a melancholy edge that, again, reminds me of the “blackgaze” bands, like Wolves In The Throne Room.
The production gives a big boost to the low-end tones on Creon, so, while there is a lot of black metal mixed into the sound, none of the heaviness of Rorcal’s sludgy side is dampened. Imagine if Cult Of Luna started playing black metal, and you’d get a pretty good idea of what to expect on this album. Masterful in their execution, Rorcal have created one seriously heavy and atmospheric record that would appeal to fans of early Year Of No Light, Altar Of Plagues, and Wolves In The Throne Room.