Reviewed: October 2021
Released: 2021, Cold Knife Records
Reviewer: Lee Carter
With the state of the world at present, is it any wonder that EMISSARY OF SUFFERING decided to name their debut release ‘Mournful Sights’? If ever there was a topic that was ripe for discussion, then the steady decline of humanity as time wears on is about as good as any. It isn’t exactly the newest subject to mine, but it’s a topic that can rile up the passion like no other. Especially so for a band peddling the sort of no-nonsense brand of death metal that these chaps do. So how does it fare?
At under half-an-hour in playing time, ‘Mournful Sights’ is a brief but bludgeoning experience from metal vets Mattias Rasmusson and Nils Groth, and one that feels delightfully down-to-earth. From the immediate opening chunk of “Total Void”, the production comes across as proper salt-of-the-earth, which adds a particular heft a more hyper-polished approach struggles to deliver. The speed and freneticism is a recurring theme, and one that, thankfully, the band vary up over the course of the record.
The first instance of this variety comes from the slower, chunkier title track. After the speedier brutality of the opening two, ‘Mournful Sight’ drops a gear and almost grinds its way through the decay of civilisation as we know it. The slower tempo certainly catches the ear, but ringing melodies during its final throes adds that extra special something to proceedings to further enhance its status as an album highlight. Similarly, “Privilege” and closer “Cura Animarum Suprema Lex” follow a similar story, albeit from a running start. In fact, where they use it, the band’s inclusion of melody certainly elevates their respective tracks from just pure thrashers (something they do on five of the eight tracks here)
With most of the songs across the album clocking in at around the three-minute-mark, you can be sure that EMISSARY OF SUFFERING are specialists in speed. It’s not quite grindcore, but it’ll certainly take your face off if you are not careful. It is evidently a passionate record – you couldn’t accuse either Rasmusson or Groth of phoning it in – and both the brevity and variety works in its favour. Why dilute your rage over a longer period when you can just blast all before?
While there is evidence of the band’s favourites and influences on display (the band has cited the album for fans of MORBID ANGEL, DISMEMBER, AUTOPSY and BLOODBATH), ‘Mournful Sights’ is a finely balanced melting pot of death metal classics. EMISSARY OF SUFFERING can rip it up ably, but can keep things interesting with subtle nuances, melody and clever changes of tempo. If you, too, wish to meditate on the sufferings of the world, then ‘Mournful Sights’ won’t be a bad shout.