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This is Mortification's third album which was originally released in November of 1993. It is their follow up to the 1992 death metal classic Scrolls of the Megilloth.
On this album their is a clear shift in style from its predecessors as the band reverts somewhat back to their thrash metal roots while still maintaining an adequate dose of death metal elements. Also making its way in are a lot of industrial influences. Between each track are little thirty second or so sound bytes that sound kind of mesmerizing which I think adds a nice touch to their new musical direction.
Generally the songs are longer and more complex in structure than on previous releases. Most of the album contains death metal growls although this is occasioned by shouting thrash vocals such as the chorus on the song Human Condition and the verses on Impulsation. Steve Rowe uses a more mid ranged vocal tone with his otherwise recognizable death growl.
Steve Rowe displays his usual high tuned bass mastery that seems to be heard more prominently than on the band's previous releases. It obviously follows the guitar riffs but also compliments them quite well. Only problem is with the song Flight to Victory. It is an entire track of a two minute bass solo which doesn't really add anything positive to the album other than evidently being strongly influenced by legendary Manowar bassist Joey Demaio's playing. Unfortunately it lacks the inspiration of the latter. However, it's not really a hindrance to the album either so I could take it or leave it. Otherwise his outstanding bass playing capabilities are showcased very well within the rest of the songs on here.
Michael Carlisle’s guitar playing is speedy and precise as well as adding more complexity to his riffing and song writing. For instance, with the song Overseer (which he wrote) you hear 9 whole minutes of numerous riffs and some good changes in tempo which solidifies this track as one of the album's strongest despite being so lengthy. Another song that he wrote was From the Valley of Shadows which is on the fringe of being an epic as it is rather lengthy as well as brilliantly composed.
Also, this wouldn't be a review without mentioning the immensely talented Jayson Sherlock's fast and dead on accurate drumming which is showcased here perhaps more so than anything he has done before or since. His incredible timing is just one element of his remarkable ability as one of death metal's premier drummers. And as usual, his swift and precise changes of tempo are quite obvious throughout this entire disc.
The production here is a noticeable improvement from Scrolls... as it is cleaner and every instrument is more clearly heard and not so murky. However it does sound a bit dry which takes away from the heaviness of some of the more "brutal" songs on here.
My favorite songs on here are From the Valley of Shadows, Overseer, and Vital Fluids.
I just gave this album an 85 because in my opinion it's just not quite up to par with their previous two releases although I still regard it as a musically solid album. In my opinion it’s just not quite as heavy as their self titled debut (1991) and their second release Scrolls of the Megilloth (1992).
However, if you like death metal from the early 1990's I would recommend this album as well as their first two albums which at the time were probably the heaviest music recorded by a Christian metal band.
From one of the most criticized Christian metal bands of all time and probably the most adventurous guys ever showing up in the metal scene one thing is for sure: there is not even one Mortification album alike among them and they have been around for almost 18 years but what I still can not understand is why many metal heads keep comparing every single album with ‘Scrolls’? Is it because of the heaviness and they want only noisy, heavier and heavier records all the time? Is it because they only like Nile, Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse? Is it because they do not know anything about evolution? If so, give me a break! A band that does not evolve simply ceases to exist and that is why they are still playing, for good or bad!
Another thing that bothers me is the fact some guys mock the band just because they are Christians so if you do not like those topics do no listen to them but let them be whatever their beliefs are. I have even read some critics about the irony of these styles of music with these kinds of lyrics, I mean, says who? The question would be: why not? Those people obviously do not understand that music does not belong to a particular style but to all and anyone can put their feelings and beliefs into the music no matter what.
Now the music, following the successful and remarkable Scrolls of the Megilloth they took another step in evolution with Post Momentary Affliction. Steve Rowe now screams and the growling is less powerful. They incorporated thrash elements like in Impulsation but the grind core elements are present in Liquid assets/Vital Fluids. Classical death metal elements come up in the first track which clocks around 10 minutes in two parts and the opening is a great track with lost of twists and great vocals. Distarnish Priest is a bass driven song with slow pace and again we get cool vocals and good rhythm parts. Grind planetarium was a commercial hit (sound ironic I know but it was) and honestly I do not like it; it is too weird for my taste. There is one bass instrumental and I agree with some guys who have said it sounds sometimes disharmonic and even a starter can perform it without problems but that doesn’t mean that Rowe’s skills as composer and bass player are not impressive. There are a lot of passages to set the mood for the album which deals with daily problems in life and how to solve by requesting help from God, so after the heaviest track at the end we get some sea sounds with enchanting keyboards to close the album.
If you get the special edition you will get a bonus track which is Butchered Mutilation which reminds me the kind of songs from The Bleeding by Cannibal Corpse. The album got a lot of recognition from the critics due to the innovation and skills, specially, for me, in the drums department where Jayson Sherlock is a master, but since they were starting to put heaviness in the closet he left soon after the release of Live Planetarium.
So my friends I would say this was a really good album, something weird in the typical death metal vein but enjoyable through its diversity. What followed next is a different story but they managed to stay alive and evolving into different things in the death metal realm which is not necessary bad at all.
Scrolls of the Megilloth is a kick ass album, and everyone should realize that before bashing this band. Postmontary Affliction follows it up, but sadly marks a turn in style for the band, as well as the beginning of their downfall.
Generally, the musicianship is still very strong, but it become quite apparent that it is generally misguided. There are tons and tons of riffs and ideas on here, and sadly a lot of them don't really have anything to do with each other. Segues are missing, which may work for a really technical/jazzy type band, but when you want smooth flowing metal it does not. Another problem is that when the band locks into a good riff or a good groove, it disappears all too soon. The good riffs feel really undeveloped as well, as if you could have made one great album from the good riffs, then scrapped the others. It feels very frustrating, because this could have been a good album.
Most of the elements here are a bit softened, probably so that the band could get a bigger audience. Steve's vocals are no longer the death growl he used on Scrolls, but kind of a harsh bark that would not sound out of place on a thrash/hardcore hybrid. The guitar riffing is a bit more technical than on Scrolls, but most of its power is gone and none of the solos are memorable. Jason Sherlock is still flailing away mercilessly, but he sounds as though he were subdued, never really going full bore. Steve's bass performance is both commendable and laughable. Being a bass player myself, I really like the approach he takes, with a trebly, kind of clangy tone above the whole mass of metal (only makes sense, because he's the mainman of the band), similar to but different from Blacky, Steve Harris, Geezer Butler and Cliff Burton. Where he really screws up is when he tries to do a bass solo for one of the instrumentals, and it sounds like he doesn't really have a clue what he's doing. Honestly, I'm not sure if it's even musically correct, because it sounds llike he's just hitting a bunch of kind of random notes and calls it a solo. That's not too good, but other than that, I'm actually quite fond of his playing.
Too many technical riffs combined with not enough logic behind their composition make the album feel really disjointed. Then with the really dry, airy production, you get basically a death metal version of Metallica's And Justice for All, and nowhere nearly as good. Sadly, Mortification would stick to this production, and it would in fact get worse as time goes on. They would also spend less time on the actual composition of their songs and more on promoting their wholesome christian image.