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The haunted castle. The morbid fortress. The palace of exquisite tortures. So often do their images grace the albums of metal records which...fail to sound anything like they even belong in a courtyard or gatehouse of such a place. And yet, whenever I see an image like the fantastic cover of Blood Mortized's eponymous 2009 debut, I cross my fingers behind my back and hope I'm about to get that majestic, monolithic, vampiric evil sound I so project onto them through sheer imagination alone. These Swedes do not really sound native to such a vision, but to their credit, they could at least squat in the boneyard out front, or maybe around to the side. No more or no less worthy than any other Swedish death metal band adopting that aural blueprint of forebears Dismember and Entombed, they choose a fairly safe sound and just roll with it...to middling if not entirely ineffective results.
Yes, you've already guessed what the guitar tone on this disc sounds like, so I can only add that it's a little more dense and roiling than several of their other peers that have popped up in the last half of a decade. Blood Mortized exist on a precarious balance between the more melancholic, driving melodic brand of Swedeath pioneered by groups like Desultory ("Devil's Vengeance") and a more churning spin on the Entombed death & roll style adopted during the transitions to Clandestine and Wolverine Blues. They possess an almost suffocating level of atmosphere once those fat, meaty rhythms are blistering along on some painfully simple rhythm pattern and all manner of leads, bluesy and/or evil leads ring out and provide most of my favorite moments on the entire record, like during the bridge of "Wishing Hell". Vocals come in two flavors, one being a slightly higher pitched snarl, and the other being the L-G Petrov guttural grunts with a Klas Morberg's bark, and they're fairly well done if merely redundant to so many we've already heard to death. There's also a very big, bossy, bassy feel to the record that helps compensate slightly for the fact that half the riff progressions are completely uninspired and boring...
So this is yet another of those many cases where the production serves to give a heavier sound to a slew of banal material that nobody would pay attention to otherwise. Yet ultimately, there's enough packed in there, enough distractions that this is far from one of the worse of the retro Swedeath records I've heard, and at its best I'd even claim it was spot on. Individual songs aren't memorable to the extent that I'd seek them out individually, but if I was down for an endless loop of bands in this style and had just finished Mr. Death, Revel in Flesh, Entrails and others, this would fit the bill. Indiscriminate fanatics for the sound could do a lot worse, and when the band hits a lumbering level of groove as in "Funeral Ride" where the harmonies and melodies are ringing out over some of the nastier chord choices, it becomes sweltering, satisfying stuff. At over an hour, there is also quite a lot of it, and half the dozen cuts are worthwhile or very near that. Just wish it sounded as evil and inviting as it looked.
Wow, maybe Blood Mortized shouldn’t be labelled as the so called “super-group”, as the people who play in it aren’t fuckin’ rock stars, but it is definitely worth to mention that people like Mattias Borgh (ex Crypt of Kerberos), Mattias Parkkila (ex Egypt, ex Stigmata, nowadays Malfeitor), Benny Moberg (Malfeitor) and Anders Biazzi (ex Amon Amarth) are involved in the band. And while some of such bands turn out to be a disappointment, like Crucifyre and Mr Death for instance, then I must say that I liked Blood Mortized quite much. First thing, which I’ve heard from this band was their tape EP “Bestial”, with three absolutely crushing death metal tracks. Soon I decided also to get the debut CD, what wasn’t so easy, as the label, which released it - Vrykoblast Productions from Singapore – had really poor distribution. I don’t even know if they still exist or if they didn’t fuck the band up in the ass after the release of “Blood Mortized”, but fuck that… I’ve got the CD now, so I’m happy.
There’s one thing, which I don’t like about “Blood Mortized”. It is the fact that the album has 12 songs and lasts for about an hour, what in my opinion is simply too much. That long running time affected the quality of the material and let some more mediocre songs appear on the album. I don’t wanna say that some of these tracks are shit, because really the whole album is either very good or good at least, but I guess it would have a stronger and more lethal effect, if “Blood Mortized” was shorter and had only eight, but really killer songs. Like for example I’m not so fond about “Devil’s Vengeance”, which annoys me with the harmonies in the Amon Amarth style. “Cannibal Object”, “Winter Tale” and “Autumn Whispers” are also some of those mediocre songs… not terribly bad, but just not as good as rest of the material. “Autumn Whispers” is almost boring, with these over seven minutes of slow, melancholic playing… It doesn’t really work, especially if after such song you would expect perhaps something faster, but the next song, “Black Bird Blues”, is again slow (but much better than the “Autumn Whisper” in my opinion, with really killer main riff).
But luckily there are also songs that are so fuckin strong that they’re able to crush the walls and turn the cities into dust. Like “Wishing Hell” – what a damn good song, so damn heavy, with great riffing and chorus part. Also “Suicide Escape Plan”, “Slay Me Down to Rest” (slow, heavy… arrghhh), “To Advance is to Die” (great riffs!)… I can mention really quite few songs from this album. “Funeral Ride” is another great track – very melodic, very catchy, almost epic and melancholic, but really good in my opinion. And “Black Bird Blues”, which I already mentioned and which has one of the most infectious riffs (melodies) from the whole album. Style wise Blood Mortized sounds obviously 100% Swedish: the production of their “Blood Mortized” is classic Sweden and also the music is traditional Swedish stuff. But I think this album sounds more like the recent Swedish albums rather than Nihilist; think of some of the last Dismember albums, as well as Entrails, Evocation, Unleashed and these sort of Swedish death metal bands. Don’t expect death metal, which would be very fast or very brutal; it’s rather mid paced or slow all the way through, often melodic, but not overly melodic luckily, well played and produced... Definitely very typical for this country, not original, but damn good anyway! I wish the band was maybe more violent, maybe in the way, which Bloodbath did their early albums – what means shorter songs, but with some more relentless and straight forward attitude in them? Well, something what Blood Mortized did on “Bestial” EP really. Anyway, I like this CD, so all those complains are nothing major and in the end I can focus just on the good riffing, good melodies, aggression and great feeling, which such music creates. Hail!
Standout tracks: “Wishing Hell”, “Blackbird Blues”, “Suicide Escape Plan”, “Funeral Ride”