Mortalicum: “Tears From The Grave” CD

The Swedes still seem like a new band perhaps because their very credible and enjoyable “Progress of Doom” debut album remains fresh in my mind. But the truth of the matter is that at least four years have passed since then and I was wholly oblivious to “The Endtime Prophecy” that came and went in the interim until I caught wind that their third full-length album was due to be unleashed. To compound my confusion, I was not sure what to expect when I read that they had slowed down and stripped back to a power trio. Fortunately though, any doubts were unfounded. “The Endless Sacrifice” belts open the record with that gutsy heavy groove and the same melodic higher-range vocals integral to their signature sound. Their inventive song-writing flourishes throughout, shifting in tone and tempo, yet remaining heartfelt and infectious. What I find all the more warming is that Henrik Hogl’s flair for lead guitar is almost reminiscent of John Brenner. Just listen to the moving break in “I Dream of Dying” or the soloing towards the end of the lengthy title track. The feeling returns again at the opening of “The Passage” which almost echoes the spirit of the seminal “Release” by Baltimore’s finest export. Endearing from my perspective, yes, although it should not be overstressed. Sure, both bands may be drinking from the same well. But Mortalicum’s craft and consistency should be applauded in its own right. Another personal favourite, “I Am Sin” sets the hairs on the back of my neck on end during the “Into Eternity…” chorus. Second time around, Patrick Backlund’s bass really punches through and after its close they put the crunchy power back into the trio formation before delivering some wah wah guitar and another searing solo. Top notch. So tight. So fluid throughout. “The Winding Stair” is another mighty demonstration of how these three mere mortals lock in then let loose together. They are that attuned to their respective spaces within the whole, Andreas Haggstrom very much the backbone. The band has truly come of age and deserves much more acclaim than I suspect they have garnered thus far. That is still to say nothing of the honest and moving lyrical content which may be better explored through an interview. For now though, Mortalicum might be aptly considered long-lost cousins from Maryland playing ’70s Hard Rock, ’80s Heavy Metal and Doom the way it should be. With passion and soul.

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