Released: 2014, The Ajna Offensive
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Swedish Black Metal warriors Mortuus return with their second album "Grape Of The Vine". Their brand of Black Metal is very much of the mesmeric, mid-paced kind, so those expecting a wall-to-wall blastfest akin to Mortuus' contemporaries (eg Dark Funeral) will probably be disappointed.
The album opens with "Layil", a discordant slice of warped melody and disturbing chants. It adequately sets the tone for what is to follow before building to a malignant crescendo. It is followed by the morbid fancy of the title track, with its protracted intro and grarled mid-paced stomp. The pace is picked up in the last third of the song before giving way to a haunting riff and unsettling chanting. The album rumbles on with "Torches", a grimly melodic tumour of a track. Once again the pace is quite slow to mid-paced but is lifted by some truly tectonic kick drums. A delicate, stately piano motif impressively closes out the track. "Suplhur" features yet more putrid, corpse ejaculate melody, followed by "Disobedience", a claustrophobic, syncopated nightmare, and the elegiac "Nemesis". Album closer "Tzel Maveth" builds slowly into a spellbinding, demon invoking riff inducing hypnosis by punishing repetition, with a seemingly possessed Kvarnbrink screaming the listener into the abyss. "Grapes Of The Vine" works as a mood piece. In many ways it is a welcome alternative to the warp speed theatrics that many of Mortuus' contemporaries employ. There is not a blastbeat to be heard which is refreshing. However, the monochrome texture of the albums slow pacing may not be to everyone's taste.
On the other hand, if you like your Black Metal slow and spirit crushingly bleak, "Grape Of The Vine" comes highly recommended.
Review by Owen Thompson