My internet pen-pal Rennie Resmini from the band starkweather has a talent (born of a mind that functions as a vast musical encyclopedia) for hinting at the experience of a new release through references to other bands. In the case of Mithridatum‘s debut album Harrowing, he wrote: “If you said this was a collaboration between Zhrine, Ulcerate and Thantifaxath it would make sense.”
Willowtip Records, which will release the record next month, has provided a different kind of hint: “Through mercurial waves beneath the moon’s mournful glow, a trinity of incarnate beings that embody Mithridatum have conjured forth the entity known as Harrowing, an auditory pilgrimage traversing a gloomscape leaden with dissonance, despondency, isolation, entropy… into the abyss.”
You might also want to consider the origins of the band’s name. As the label, or perhaps the band, explain: “The name Mithridatum refers to the practice of achieving immunity against poisoning through self-administered, sub-lethal doses. The allegory is inescapable in its illustration of the unrelenting immiseration all incarnate beings must endure, willing or unwilling.”
Of course, I’ll add my own two cents about the impressions left by the music, which truly is startling, but as of today you have two tracks from which to form your own impressions.
The album’s first single “Sojourn“, like the album title, is harrowing — a blistering, battering, bleak, and bizarre formulation of dissonant blackened death metal. Through the freakish whining and wailing of the guitars, it applies knives to the listener’s nerves, even when it slows, and the drumwork is as discombobulating as it is electrifying. It’s a serious head-spinner. The technical skill of the performances is very impressive, as it must be to execute a composition of so many maniacal moving parts.
The song we’re premiering today, “Mournful Glow“, will spin heads too, even in the beginning, when the piercing whine-and-chime of the guitars writhes slowly instead of on the boil, the bass slithers like a fat worm, and the drums cavort instead of opening up like a heavy-caliber armament on full auto. The effect is eerie and unnerving, but it will quickly pin the fluttering butterfly of your mind in place.
Of course, the dissonant guitar fevers rise, like the result of a strange infection that leads to violence. The drums heat up too, and a ghastly voice vehemently growls and howls the words. The convulsions in the music become even more twisted as it progresses. The band inject bursts of insectile fretwork frenzy and queasy, vaporous guitar maneuvers, while the bass mumbles and moans and the drumming becomes so riotously unhinged as to drop jaws. The hinge is off the vocals too, and you can only count your blessings that you’re not in the same cage as what’s making those sounds.
The whole thing is a whirligig of madness, but unexpectedly and perhaps perversely, these perplexing harmonies and disharmonies get stuck in the head, and thus it’s infectious in both senses of the word — a mental contagion, and somehow a very catchy one too.
Who is responsible for this perilous but exhilarating insanity? The answer is Lyle Cooper (guitar, bass, drums) and Marlon Friday (guitar), both of whom are bandmates in Abhorrent and Absvrdist, plus vocalist Geoff Ficco (ex-The Faceless).
Harrowing will be released by Willowtip Records on February 3rd, on CD, vinyl, and digital formats. It features stunning cover art by The Blazing Seer, and it’s available for pre-order now.