Reviewed: March, 2021
Released: 2021, Purity Through Fire
Reviewer: Jack Merry
For a decade now, Meuchelmord has been holding high the banner of traditional German black metal. The sole work of one Cernunnos AKA Kriegstreiber, the band have quietly built a body of work that is deeply reverent of black metal’s ancient ways but is by no means totally tethered to the past. In fact, one can find a refreshing sense of modernity in Meuchelmord‘s creations, which in turn renders his expression timeless – and terrifying.
The seventh album from them, Mordmelodien, is a totally bleak affair; as black metal is prone to be, and I’ve gotta be honest right out of the gate… I found this to be a really difficult record to listen through. It’s not completely without merit, but there are some things that I just can’t get past.
Musically, Mordmelodien is an excellent blast of old-school death metal with modern production values, as it’s mixed really well from beginning to end and the actual musicianship on display really is quite staggering, even more so knowing that Meuchelmord is just one man. On a technical level, black metal always impresses me despite being one of my least favourite sub-genres of the metal world, and this particular album is no different.
The hypnotic opening track ‘Der Tod naht’ (translates to ‘Death is Near’) starts with some gorgeous choral singing before hitting full-throttle on a relentless, droning guitar riff and leading to an all-out aural assault that doesn’t quit for the record’s entire runtime. ‘Waffenweihe’ (‘Gun Consecration’) and ‘Schwarzes Ehrenfeld’ (‘Black Fields of Honour’) both follow the same aggressive, no-holds-barred formula, while ‘Treibjagd’ (‘Driven Hunt’) slows down just a touch to deliver a little bit of melody above the madness.
‘Alter Geist’ (‘Old Ghost’) contains some impressive riffs and blasting drums throughout, and the cover of Ad Mortem’s ‘Totenkult’ (‘Cult of the Dead’) is pretty inspired and in-theme with the rest of the album, however at this point, the vocals really start to grate and I find them really off-putting. If you really like black metal as a genre, the vocals here probably won’t bother you, but I found it so difficult to get through the entire album because of them. Musically, the album is spot on but it’s the harsh, unintelligible, and visceral vocals that make it an extremely brutal listening experience for the uninitiated.
Mordmelodien is by no means a bad album, it’s just not for me. If you are an existing fan of Meuchelmord or have a passing interest in German black metal, you’ll find a lot to love here. It’s a terrifying, brutal, dark, and rage-fuelled record that leaves you breathless, but sadly for me, it most likely won’t get repeated listens.