Cursed To See The Future
07 July 2014
by Rob McAuslan
Relapse are on a bit of a tear of late, signing all manner of bands both old and new; from death metal legends like Obituary to North Carolina’s grind neophytes Columns, they’ve got new records in the works from most areas of extreme metal. It’s at least encouraging to see this kind of faith being shown in a time when the industry as a whole is apparently eating beans on toast five nights out of seven. Scooping up Mortals as a part of this recent drive may well be one of the smarter moves they’ve made.
The Brooklyn trio that make up Mortals have undergone a slow but steady evolution over their years together. Starting out as a metallic hardcore band and working their way through a more sludgy sound over their last couple of shorter releases, Cursed to See the Future stirs black metal’s cold detachment through what was already a grimily-potent mixture to create something hugely compelling. Whilst it’s not necessarily breaking new ground, that’s hardly a huge issue when the songs are of this high quality.
It’s a fierce and challenging set, throwing riff after riff into byzantine arrangements that use dynamism and variety to hold your interest. Witness ‘Epocryphal Gloom’ veering from a stately swing into Snakes For The Divine-era High On Fire tribal savagery on its way to an icy, elegiac coda of tremelo-picked fury for a prime example of this record’s range. Lesley Wolf’s roaming bass underpins the slashing and chiming guitar work of Elizabeth Cline to devastating effect during ‘Devilspell’, more than ably led by Caryn Havlik’s stellar drumming throughout – equal parts Fenriz, Andy Whale and Des Kensel, she turns in a superb display of technique, empathetic playing and GPS-like guidance through some very long and twisting songs.
Cursed to See the Future might not be perfect – not all of the songs bear their length gracefully, and the production is a little more compressed than would ideally suit these dense compositions – but the parts that are truly, properly great more than carry the whole thing, and it has an ambition and promise that deserves your attention.
Sounds Like: Darkthrone went sludge and got Chuck Schuldiner in on vocals.
Standout Tracks: Epocryphal Gloom, Devilspell, Anchored In Time