Mordant formed in Sweden back in 1997. After releasing a couple demos
and the Suicide Slaughter E.P., they finally got around to recording a full-length
album in 2004. Released on Agonia Records, Momento Mori is a surprising slab of old
school black metal that places them alongside the likes of Aura Noir, Desaster and especially Nifelheim, in keeping the ancient
From the very beginning, it is evident that Mordant is firmly
rooted in the spirit of the '80s underground scene. They play a very primitive style of music, and this album sounds as if
it could have easily been released 15 or 16 years earlier. The songwriting is bereft of any real traces of modernity, which
is a very positive thing. The arrangements sound very natural and nothing is out of place. With a variety of tempo changes,
they do enough to keep things interesting while also maintaining a sense of uniformity. The songs are filled with memorable
guitar riffs and vocal sections, from the refrain of the title track to the eerie solo in the middle of "Necrophiliacs from
Darkness of Hell".
The production suits the style perfectly, being quite raw yet clear enough for the full scope of
their creativity to be appreciated. For some, this may be considered demo quality, but this is exactly what this type of music
should sound like. It's not overdone, yet it's not grating on the ears, either. The focus is primarily on the guitars, which
is right where it should be. The vocal delivery is also in the rougher, old school style, being very harsh and not smooth
or processed like so many modern bands seem to prefer. They are placed high enough in the mix for their effect to be fully
felt, and add a lot to the atmosphere. There is a strain of desperation that permeates many lines, such as the refrain from
"Right Hand of Lucifer". This approach adds so much to the feeling that is being conveyed, and lends a sense of purity to
the whole affair.
As much as I like this band, it is impossible to ignore the fact that, at times, they sound just
like Nifelheim. The overall style is pretty much the same and especially the way they utilize the creepy lead solos and guitar
harmonies, such as the intro to "Message to Devastate". It gets to a point where one has to wonder if they simply share the
same influences, or if they are drawing this inspiration from Nifelheim, themselves. I'm not one to claim that all bands have
to be adding something entirely unique, as there is a strong necessity for maintaining traditions within black metal, and
it's not as if there are 200 bands that sound just like this, these days. All in all, they do an excellent job with the style
they've chosen to implement and I wish I'd known of the existence of Momento Mori
during the lengthy break between Nifelheim's Servants of Darkness and Envoy of Lucifer. To be fair, Mordant displays a little less of an old Bathory influence, with more thrash
in its place.
In the end, this album proves that there is still quality music being released, though in relative obscurity.
It seems that, for the most part, the only good new releases are those that carry on the legacy of the past. Pick this up
and listen at full volume!
(13 Dec. 2010)
Mordant's sophomore record, Black
Evil Master, was released in November 2011 and was the first L.P. to come from this band since 2004's Momento Mori. Despite offering up a very solid album, firmly entrenched in '80s speed and black metal, the
band was plagued by line-up troubles and just could not get things off the ground. Following the Back from Hell demo, it seemed as if Mordant would finally pick up from where they left off, yet they soon
fell silent again. By 2010, after years of setbacks, the band rose from the grave to begin working on their second album.
the very beginning of Black Evil Master, it is clear that Mordant sought not only
to make up for lost time but also to improve upon what came before. The songwriting shows even more '80s influences, with
riffs that are reminiscent of Motörhead, Venom and Bathory, while also injecting dark and nocturnal melodies that remind one
fellow Swedes such as Necrophobic, Watain and especially Nifelheim. The latter appears to be an extremely strong inspiration
for Mordant, with a lot of the same type of lead melodies and just the overall approach. Musically, this is a very strong
record and each song stands on its own, quite well. It is full of memorable riffs and vocal patterns, as well. Just one listen
is enough for songs like the title track and "Total Inferno" to become embedded in your brain. An ominous and haunting atmosphere
is present, throughout the entire album. This is aided, as well, by the vocals, which are sort of distant and raspy. The style
suits the music very well, hearkening back to the first wave of black metal. The same can be said of the songwriting, itself,
which is a good combination of black and speed metal, showing a good amount of intensity and passion in the execution. There
are no blast beats and the songs rarely get up to such a speed that would necessitate them, anyway. The tempo varies, over
the course of the album, with the fastest parts never exceeding that which would be commonly found on early '80s releases.
production is not as harsh as one might imagine, based on some of the descriptions. Everything is rather clear and the sound
enables the pure nocturnal atmosphere to consume the listener. Despite all of the old school influences, this sounds closer
to Necrophobic's Death To All, as opposed to the recent output of Power From Hell.
That said, the mix is just right and the levels are where they need to be. Being someone that really prefers guitar-driven
albums, I might suggest that the drums be lowered a slight bit, but that is more of a personal preference and does not really
affect the end result. The guitars are certainly loud enough to dominate the record, which allows all of the excellent riffs
to be heard quite clearly. The guitar tone is thinner than on the previous album, which works better within the context of
the music. Even the bass is more audible than some would expect, but mostly during the slower parts. The vocals are just loud
enough to be heard well, without going over-the-top and distracting from the music.
The lyrics are purely Satanic and
seem to be kind of primitive, more in line with the old school bands than their more introspective peers. This is actually
a good thing, as it is a lot more suitable than the whole trend of bands that delve so deeply into Judeo-Christian nonsense
is very tiring. The more straightforward approach of being possessed by the Dark Lord and raping angels is enough to show
disdain for the Great Lie without confusing listeners. Many modern bands seem more into the idea of impressing others by showing
off how many countless hours they have wasted by studying Judeo-Christian mythology. Mordant takes an approach that some may
think of as less intelligent, but it is actually more fitting to the overall musical style and presentation of the record.
Black Evil Master is a great album of black/speed metal, highly recommended to fans of
the old first wave bands as well as the likes of Nifelheim and Necrophobic. It combines old school riffs and arrangements
with brilliant melodies that embody the darkness of the night and create a feeling of primitive evil. If Mordant is able to
follow up on this, they just may build enough momentum to become as well-known as many of their Swedish brethren. If you liked
Momento Mori, you will enjoy this even more. Get this now.
(21 Dec. 2011)
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