Doom/death metal seems to be having a bit of a revival at the moment culminating in bands appearing from nowhere and releasing stellar material. One such release is by Washington based band Mortiferum who have released their first demo amid high acclaim. Their demo Altar of Decay was released in cassette format last year. Profound Lore records are now releasing it on vinyl and Blood Harvest records are releasing the CD version in March which shows that this band have what it takes. They’re also going on a lengthy tour to support their material.
The title track of the demo, “Altar of Decay”, starts with an eerie sound and bells ringing before guitar kicks in. Slow dissonant riffs are the order of the day, backed by a sound that reminds you of your tape trading days which obviously brought a smile to this face. Vocals from Max are as you would expect from this genre, totally indecipherable… but that is exactly what you want from a band like this. The pace is generally slow and does pick up in places but is reminiscent of Crypt of Kerebros before blast beats from Alex mix things up a bit which brings to mind some Disembowelment. The swirling riffs mixed with growling vocals are something to behold and something that I have loved for almost thirty years now. Five minutes into the track is where the highlight of the song is for me, with a beautiful riff and atmosphere which just oozes professionalism and class.
“Blood Chasm” is next and starts with a much faster riff followed by blast beats again from Alex which will surely get the pit started. The vocals from Max, even though low in the mix at some points throughout the demo, are powerful and perfect for the arrangements each song has to offer. I really do like the sound of this demo and the fact that it was recorded in a garage is incredible. This song as a whole is much faster and shorter than the title track, but mixes up the tempo really well and keeps my happy grin on my face throughout. Mid-pace riffs from Max and Chase have been done before as this genre has been alive for thirty years, however they know when to speed things up and slow down in order to give maximum effect to the songs.
“Vitiated Mortality” again starts off death/doom style for the first minute before settling for a more mid-paced riffing style and culminating in blast beats and fast paced riffing for the last minute. Again it’s at the closing end of the song that there is a particular highlight for me with the setting and atmosphere created by eerie riffs and bells that are especially chilling. I can’t help but feel that there is a lot of Disembowelment worship in there which of course is a major plus in my book. The band proclaims to worship American and Finnish bands and there are influences certainly there, but there is enough of their own sound to create something unique and intriguing.
The final song on the demo, “Grave Invocation”, finishes things off in a much faster paced environment, again reminiscent of Disembowelment. The song mixes the tempo at the right times and adds maturity to a band that has only been together for not even two years. Again it’s at the latter stage of the song that I think it’s at its strongest. Just supreme musicianship that got this old death head nodding in unison with each note.
For anyone into death metal, there is something in each and every one of these songs for you to like. Sometimes death metal has more power and lasting effect when it is slowed down and more energy is put into the music, rather than the 100mph technical guitar wankery. Mortiferum have a good future ahead of them and with their sole demo being released by two different record labels shows promise for the band. I for one will be keeping an eye on them in the near future.