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Mordkaul – Dress Code: Blood

Mordkaul
Dress Code: Blood
by Max Elias at 16 February 2021, 4:29 PM

The first real song on Dress Code: Blood is the title track, and immediately you can hear that whoever wrote this spent a lot of time locked in their room listening to AT THE GATES. The guitar, drum and overall production tones are ripped straight from that Gothenburg school of Melodic Death Metal. More specifically to “Dress Code: Blood”, there are lots of triplet riffs that put one in mind of “Slaughter of the Soul”, and the vocal melody is clearly derived from it (particularly the ‘suicide/die alone’ part).

The band distinguishes themselves a little more with “Onwards to Hell”, where the classic triplet motifs are joined by tremolo picked bursts and punishing blast beats to create a storm of activity. And without the melody line which is similar to “Slaughter of the Soul”, it’s apparent that the vocals don’t sound so much like those of AT THE GATES, if only because the later band’s tortured howling is outside the normal realm of Death Metal vocalists. The band also seems to have a few more lead guitar moments than AT THE GATES, both the title track and “Onward to Hell” have featured lead breaks.

The churning, repetitive intro of “All Out War” heightens adrenaline and points towards a more barebones, primal direction. It does seem like there is less frantic jumping from riff to riff and that MORDKAUL are more willing to lean on a few big riffs; which has the effect of pummeling the listener and sedating them at the same time, rather than keeping them on alert to spot each new riff as it comes by. The more stripped-down approach and the following instrumental, “Eve”, comprise a mid-album reprieve from the Gothenburg-inspired miasma of dissonance and aggression the band takes its cue from; although towards the end of “Eve”, the ominous atmosphere intensifies.

“Eve” gives way to “Aurora”, where the band picks up the slack again. The riffing is almost hypnotic in its immenseness, especially during the choruses, where the vocalist screams ‘Aurora’ in his haunting, drawn-out howl. It is a bit more blanketing and atmosphere driven on account of its length; the shorter songs on the album tend to be more straight-ahead and targeted assaults. For example, “Bring Me Her Head”, kicks in immediately with a faint and steadily louder pedal-tone riff, and that energy is maintained throughout the song’s 3:18 runtime. The bouncy tremolo melody riff during the verses is a standout moment for me.

If you love AT THE GATES and Gothenburg Death Metal in general, check out MORRDKAUL and you will not be disappointed. Though they are not Swedish themselves, they appropriate the style well. Although the album as a whole sounds less derivative of AT THE GATES once you get past “Dress Code: Blood”, this is still not the most original of albums; it doesn’t put a new twist on or blend other genres into Gothenburg Death Metal and is pretty much a case of genre worship. But it is very competent genre worship.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Musicianship: 8
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Damnation
2. Dress Code: Blood
3. Onwards to Hell
4. A Swarm of Illusions
5. All Out War
6. Eve
7. Aurora
8. Bring Me Her Head
9. Virgin Whore
10. The Widow Black
Lineup:
Tommy Goffin – Vocals
Tim Bekaert – Guitars
Vincent Noben – Guitars
Jan Rammeloo – Bass
Tony Van Den Eynde – Drums
Record Label: Wormhole Death Records
     


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Edited 05 March 2021
 

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