The latest album from long-running French death metal band Mortuary (and I feel the need to specify ‘French’, because it seems like every country has at least one death metal band by that name) keeps things hard and trim. With over half of its songs chopping away under four minutes, Nothingless than Nothingness strikes a nice balance between modern and ’80s influences. Current-day slickness and drum-speed standards mesh with old-school riffs and earnest shredding, with bellows that come out with enough anger to make up for only every fifth word or so being decipherable.
There’s also a pleasing amount of variety crammed into the songs, though the tempo range and rhythm sets get the least breadth. Guitar-work shifts from needle-point quickness to extended wailing without going against the grain of the song, so to speak; and while the vocalist’s top speed doesn’t hit the same level, he accomplishes similarly manic switches. While it comes off as slightly too streamlined at times, the band’s skill with pulling their various parts together to deliver a focused impact does result in some of the most striking moments of the album. The rare slow sections (mostly in the longest-running but shortest-titled track, “K”) stand out more because of this, which had me wishing they’d found room for a few more before the album was half-done, just to give their intensity more balance.
On the downside, some of the song titles are near-goofy in their attempts to be non-standard (“Pleasuffering”, “U-Man Slept, K-os Crawled”, and “Yesterdead” make up a stretch of the album one after another), and the drummer’s technical skills feel a little too constricted by the need to deliver blast-beats almost all of the time. Generally speaking, however, it’s a pretty strong showing by Mortuary, with no tracks that I’d point to as being total (or even half) failures. They just want to thrash and pound, and they get it done with a fair amount of style shown in the process. Some more of the wild guitar ripping that floats up occasionally would definitely have been welcome but, again, the album’s clearest strengths lie in how the musicians work together.