Released: 2012, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Mortalicum are a hard rocking, doom metal band from Sundsvall, Sweden who have drawn some comparisons amongst the metal underground to such time honored acts as Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, Terra Firma and Cirith Ungol to name a few. THE ENDTIME PROPHECY is the band's second full length LP for Metal On Metal Records.
THE ENDTIME PROPHECY opens with the doomy crunch of "My Dying Soul" (a song for which the band have filmed a music video for) a loose, fuzz soaked, garage band romp with musical similarities to vintage Witchfinder General. Vocalist Henrik Hogl (who is also one of two guitarists in the band) has a pretty unique vocal style, his nasally, mid range style comes across as being very emotive and powerful and hard to draw comparisons to. Having said that though, any sense of aggression takes a backseat to the soulfulness of the affair and thus leaves me wanting something a little more sinister sounding, if that makes sense.
The title track on "The Endtime Prophecy" begins with some melodic dual guitar riffery and a driving seventies metal backbeat from the rhythm section of bassist Patrick Backlund and drummer Andreas Haggstrom, not to mention a pretty smokin' bluesy guitar solo leading into the second chorus. Lyrically this tune is set in an apocalyptic wasteland, conjuring the kind of "end of times" imagery synonymous with the destruction of planet Earth and the final days of the human race. Not exactly an original concept but it works pretty well for this doomy bunch. "Dark Night" has some really excellent and tastefully structured riffery built around a seventies metal platform, similar in feel to the work of Iommi and Blackmore. "Ballad Of A Sorrowful Man" features gently strummed clean guitar and bluesy, somewhat melodic and melancholic vocals set against a slow grooving rhythm section. Guitarist Mikael Engstrom serves up some tasteful soloing, not overly complex or over the top in it's delivery but just the kind of bluesy licks a ballad like this calls for.
The album artwork for THE ENDTIME PROPHECY depicts a devil like creature poking at the flesh of the tortured souls who reside deep within the pits of Hades, condemned to suffer and burn forever in eternal damnation and hellfire. Recording, mixing and mastering duties were handled by Patrick Backland who did a fine job in terms of overall production, though I would note that I found the vocals a little bit too high in the mix. The accompanying booklet features all of the usual band photos, lyrics and album credits you would expect, nicely laid out on glossy stock, as is usually the case with Metal On Metal Records packaging. I have to give this band their due in terms of musicianship and songwriting, in that regard they are an extremely solid band. My only general criticisms would be that I feel the vocals are very one dimensional. That one dimension being bluesy and soulful but never menacing and aggressive (two absolute hallmarks of what I'm seeking from any potential metal vocalist) A good comparison for me would be Mike DiMeo fronted Riot (While the music was choice and top notch I could never get past the singer, it lacked "Oomph!" or force) Anyhow, I'm sure that is just my personal opinion and there are most certainly doom worshipers out there that I'd imagine could look beyond that.