Wilt is the name of Mordbrand’s new album, and today we’re hosting a full stream of the album one week from its February 24 release by Carnal Records.
Among all the current purveyors of Swedish death metal, Mordbrand have consistently been among the best. They not only deliver the fundamentals of this venerable style of music like the veterans they are, they also have a flair for infusing it with fresh vitality. That’s been the biggest challenge for bands whose music is rooted in this tradition.
Even if you’re a slavish fan of the sound (as I am), you may think to yourself as you listen to many of the newer releases that have been spawned by the Swedish death metal revival, “I’ve heard this before”, even if you like what you’re hearing. The trick that few bands pull off as well as Mordbrand is to maintain the music’s connection to its roots while bringing it forward at the same time. Wilt demonstrates that talent at every turn.
That’s a fine line to walk. If a band moves too far away from the fundamentals, then it’s not Swedish death metal any more, and if the music is too wedded to the old ways, it runs the risk of being dismissed as a re-tread by more demanding listeners no matter how capably the songs are written and performed.
No doubt, Mordbrand honor their roots on Wilt. They deploy that massive sawing guitar tone like a weapon of mass destruction. They lace the songs with pestilential melodies, monstrous vocals, and drum rhythms that incorporate familiar d-beats and stampeding gallops. And all the tracks are dynamos, surging with explosive energy. But they’re unusually varied as well, and they rarely unfold quite the way you expect.
The album is book-ended by three of the most unusual songs. The opener, “Bleed Into Naught”, is a frightening piece (thanks in large part to Per Boder‘s terrifying vocal display), but a markedly dynamic one. If you go into the album expecting a healthy dose of Swe-death chugging, you won’t find it here. The pacing changes constantly, bounding and heaving, romping and swarming, and becoming a lurching horror show by the end, and it includes a queasy lead guitar measure that’s near-hallucinatory in its unsettling effect.
On the other end of the album, you come to the title track, which then leads into the closer “Give In To Oblivion”. “Wilt” is the album’s biggest surprise — a keyboard instrumental composed of tinkling piano keys paired with deep, ominous chords and a drifting ambient melody. And that haunting piece functions almost as an intro to the closer, which begins with slow, reverberating guitar notes and a slow, doom-drenched stomp, evolving into a kind of swinging rhythm that in turn gives way to bursts of blasting and swarming and ultimately a surge of intense power.
In between these bookends, many more delights are to be found. If you try to imagine a rampaging steamroller of death, which belches a toxic, psychoactive exhaust that pulls the minds of its victims into a dank crypt filled with decaying corpses at the same time as it runs them down and then drags their broken bodies along for the rest of the rushing juggernaut ride… well, that might bring you close to “Delivering the Gods”.
“Worship Predation” is an explosive track, both a clobbering maelstrom and an adrenaline-triggering rush, while “At the Larvae Column” includes a glorious larval crawl with a sorrowful but alluring guitar melody that resembles chimes — as well as an eruption of violence driven by pummeling drum blasts and hurricane-strength riffing.
“Throes of Glorious Death” mixes passages of staggering bombast, anchored by booming percussion, with slow, agonized dual-guitar harmonies that bespeak wretched grief. “To Pursue Damnation” is a kaleidoscope of frenzied fury, bouncing and bounding rhythms that sound like an infernal carnival in progress, and a swirling lead-guitar melody juxtaposed against a white-hot, fret-burning solo — and there’s more face-melting soloing in the grinding, galloping torrent of “Venomous Myrrh”, which true to its name sounds downright poisonous.
Dynamism really is the hallmark of every song on Wilt, and it’s vibrantly on display in each of the individual performances by the band’s three members. Enhanced by a tremendously powerful production, that makes the album a riveting ride from beginning to end, the work of people who are clearly possessed by the spirit of Swedish death metal but not content to just channel what’s been done in spades before. The result is Mordbrand’s best release yet.
Wilt was mixed and mastered by Lawrence Mackrory (Lik, Usurpress, Darkane) and features striking artwork by Nathalie Ziegler, with layout by Łukasz Jaszak (Decapitated, Vomitory, Volturyon, Cut Up). As noted, it will be released on February 24 in a CD edition, and a vinyl LP version is in the works as well.
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