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Hmm, the problem with so many old school death metal releases, which appeared in the recent months, is that so many of them sound just the same and it’s more and more difficult to really distinguish the shit from the good stuff. Also reviewing them all is not the easiest thing anymore, as how many times can I write the same reviews, using the same sentences and comparisons? Besides, it is more and more evident that when Repugnant did “Epitome of Darkness” 10 years ago it was something exceptional and this is why this album will probably be always considered as almost as influential and cult as “Left Hand Path”. And nowadays, if you get ten Entombed / Dismember influenced albums per month, of which you like at least five and then next month the story repeats, it is obvious that most of those albums – even if you enjoy them at the time of the purchase and the first listen – may end up on the shelf quite quickly and there’s a risk that you won’t return to them so soon. Take for instance Revel In Flesh’s “Deathevokation” LP. It is quite decent and good effort, I do like it, but will I cherish it in ten years time or will it just be covered by dust and time? Blood Mortized’s debut self titled CD is another example. The album is OK, nothing wrong with it, except maybe the fact that it is too long and have too many fillers (well, and also the fact that it was released by a shitty Asian label, which had no distribution at all and now may even be defunct… but that’s the band’s problem, not mine!). But the truth is that it may require something more exceptional, truly unique and killer to avoid being just one of the mediocre ones and rather be in the forefront of the current New Wave of Old School Swedish Death Metal – even if many of you may not like this term, it actually makes a lot of sense to use it, seeing the number of not just Swedish bands, which play it nowadays! So, is Blood Mortized’s second album, “The Key to a Black Heart” an album, which will stand above the majority of the similar recordings and will it give those Swedes a luxury of being in the forefront of this lethal wave or will rather push them towards the annoying mediocrity for good?
The album kicks off with “Unleashing the Hounds” and this title definitely describes this song well enough, as it is one of the most furious and fastest tracks from the whole CD, at first minute it does sound like someone has unleashed the beasts. But I like this song for the fact that it is so varied, as it also has slower, almost doomy, melodic chorus part, what fits great to the raging, intense music from the verses. But this relatively fast and energetic opener is not really representative for the whole material. “The Key to a Black Heart” might have some more faster and more relentless fragments here and there, but by most part this album follows the path of the either groovy, mid paced playing or even more often of the slow and incredibly harmonious, almost melancholic type of Swedish death metal. Even in such tracks as “Dead & Rotten”, just when you think that it will really kick your ass, the music develops into melodic and slow playing, what I don’t really find as something bad, as I actually like the way Blood Mortized plays their music in this style. I mean such tracks as “Only Blood Can Tell”, “Bringer of Eternal Death”, “The Key to a Black Heart” and “Rekviem” are really cool and the atmosphere they create is definitely great. What’s interesting, while there are so many such slower bits, harmonious bits, etc., they all don’t make “The Key to a Black Heart” too slow or too melodic, as the balance between these parts and the occasional more aggressive parts is good enough and as the whole “The Key to a Black Heart” is very dynamic and energetic. The production – which I like a lot – definitely makes the album even stronger, you know?
While listening to and reviewing “Blood Mortized” I moaned that the album is too long, with too many songs, so the band didn’t avoid having some fillers on it. Here on “The Key to a Black Heart” I can definitely say that I like the songs better, I think the material is stronger and with better quality and even if there are slightly weaker – or too typical - songs, like “The Heretic Possession”, then they still sound pretty solid and decent, so I cannot say there is something truly unlistenable and bad on “The Key to a Black Heart”. Yeah, I did enjoy it. My favourite songs would definitely be “Unleashing the Hounds”, “Doomsday Architect”, “Rekviem”, “Only Blood Can Tell”, but the choice is very difficult. I can also wish that the artwork was slightly better, but if you like your death metal album to have yet another zombie coming out of the grave then I’m sure you’ll like this one also, as well as the lyrics as they’re full of undead, murders, death and gore. Enjoy!
Swedish death metal band Blood Mortized last year gave fans a preview of what's to come with their Bestial EP, presenting the further advancement in the melodic Swedish death metal style that the band kicked off with on their 2009 debut self-titled full length. This year the band releases the follow up with their new album, The Key to a Black Heart, with the band having a large challenge to overcome with the plethora of Swedish-styled death metal releases recently, and with Bestial being a rather mediocre release with little distinctive elements.
And as usual, the cutting guitar tone and d-beat drumming that were pioneered by such bands as Entombed and Nihilist are instantly recognisable as the album begins, though the band takes a slight twist in their songwriting on The Key to a Black Heart, often slowing down into doom-paced segments, such as on Unleashing the Hounds where the band slows down rather unexpectedly to build the tension in the atmosphere, though unfortunately the impact that came after that was less than what was expected. For the most part though, Blood Mortized carries on with the style that was laid down from their self-titled debut, with lead guitars on songs like The Heretic Possession containing nice melodic hooks that nicely contrasted the aggressive riffs. At times, the band sounds like a melodic death metal band infused with elements of old school Swedish death metal, and this is evident on the riffing style of guitarist Anders on Only Blood can Tell.
Two tracks that were present on the Bestial EP were also present on The Key to a Black Heart, and while Rekviem sounded rather off and lacked energy on the short EP, on the full length this turned out to be a slightly more pleasing experience, with the music on the album being largely of a mid-paced nature. This was, however, also where the band falters, and the songs on the album could have definitely benefitted had the band decide to include more speed and intensity on the songs. While other contemporary Swedish death metal bands like Entrails and Feral manage to incorporate crushing riffs or speed in one way or another in their albums, Blood Mortized's music on The Key to a Black Heart lacked neither the energy nor the impact to really leave an impression on the listener.