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Mortuary – The Old Skull Reign

Mortuary
The Old Skull Reign
by Brian Lowrie at 31 October 2020, 1:47 PM

I’m going to open up with honesty; it’s a bit strange writing a review for a band that’s been playing music since before I was born. The band Mortuary has been touring all over the European continent with death metal heavyweights for literally decades and have a new 3-track release called The Old Skull Reign. While older-school styles of death metal have had a resurgence thanks to bands like Homewrecker, Gruesome and many others, some of the bands have never truly disappeared (for better or worse), and Mortuary shows no signs of slowing down.

To call this EP a “death-thrash” record would be an oversimplification; as someone who isn’t necessarily into this style of metal, I found myself a lot more engaged with this release than I have found myself with others. This could be due to the fact that I am more attracted to the idea of an EP, giving the band a circumstance to focus on fewer, yet stronger songs. The Old Skull Reign begins with “Under The Cross”, a track that starts a little cliché, but turns into an exciting ride when the verse kicks in. The nods to death metal in this track are more subtle, as it leans more into the style of Obituary. It’s clear the band wants to play fast music that isn’t revolved around the idea of technical acrobatics but doesn’t necessarily refute the idea either. The song takes a bizarre left turn during the last minute; there is a sample that’s hard to make out, but it sounds like children chanting, which is unsettling with the ending laughter.

“Drown Into The Unreal” doesn’t tinker with the formula too much, this time showing off their more groovy side. The guitars are subtlely more “dirty” sounding on this track, which is a good call due to it relying less on tremolo picked riffs. The breakdown that starts at 1:36 starts promising as a riff one would hear on a Dying Fetus track, but after the second measure the idea is thrown out the window and I can’t help but feel a little cheated out of what could have been one of the heaviest moments on the record. This track feels like it played it a little too safe, in my opinion, as the remainder of the song chooses to revisit riffs instead of breaking the barriers it put itself in.

“Mummified For Eternity” is the third and final song from the record, and has some of the more interesting riffs thus far. The drum tones sound punchier, and the verse riffs sound more aggressive, branching out in the way I had wished they had earlier, but still in the same vein as what we’ve heard so far. Even though the intro is again, a little wonky, it does a take a little more time to breathe life into itself than the other two songs, and it’s fairly rewarding to the listener.

If I had to sum up this EP, it would be “a short and sweet nostalgic trip to our roots, that doesn’t care to break any rules, even the ones it sets up for itself.” As fun as this record is to listen to, for being a super-tight sounding record and for being careless fun, I can tell the replays will be few and far between, as it’s something I don’t ever see myself being “in the mood” for. There wasn’t as much balance on this EP as I would have preferred for a band of this genre, as the influences leaned heavily in favor of the more “mile-a-minute” sound, as opposed to slowing it down for a few measures to really add a much needed contrast.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 8


3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Under The Cross
2. Drowned Into The Unreal
3. Mummified for Eternity
Lineup:
Patrick Germonville – Vocals
Alexis Baudin – Guitars
Bastien Legras – Guitars
Jean-Noel Verbecq – Bass
Yohann Voirin – Drums
Record Label: Xenokorp Records
     


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Edited 25 September 2021
 

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