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A true sense of dread and desolation can be difficult to evoke among the extreme metal crowd. We've heard it all, so how is it possible to continue bleeding the stone? The advent of 'suicidal' and depressing black metal has become a stagnant if interesting footnote to the genre at large, but unfortunately few of the bands are actually effective at what they do. Just about anyone sitting in their basement or bedroom with a computer, guitar and drum machine can play some slowish metal riffs and snarl and wail like an old lady being attacked by cats. So who can do it well?
Mortualia. The one-man side project of Shatraug (you'd know him from the great Horna if you weren't a poseur), Mortualia wisely abandons the dank dungeon of eternal cats for a bleak wintery landscape, delivered through five tracks in over 70 minutes. Yes...this is one of those albums to succeed despite its repeitious nature and length, simply because the journey is so immersive. But this isn't just some depressing journey, the album is actually beautiful. Shatraugs tormented cries escape his gasping lungs as the oxygen within freezes in place, while his panoramic vision of bright yet muted eternal tundra bears down on his writhing soul. Let go...let go of everything. Winter has already come, and we are all so fucking lost. So dead. Cut the vein. Cut it.
The individual tracks almost warrant no merit, because I would not advise the downtrodden aspirant to experience any less than the entirety of its playtime in one sitting. For example, the riffs of "Cold and Grey" may differ somewhat from "Devoid of Warmth", but I simply can't envision myself listening to just one. All or nothing here, the perfect soundtrack to a bathtub full of shaved ice and regret, the cold water filling it behind you as you glance sideways from razor to mirror, mirror to razor. Well, your problems amount to nothing in this grand, empty landscape. Winter was long before you. Winter will survive you.
Speaking of survival, I'm not sure if I could take another album from Mortualia. As much as I love this, does anything else need to be said? This is THE END. We all pass quietly into the dusk. How could it merit a sequel? With Shatraug's busy schedule (not only the amazing Horna, but Sargeist, and a myriad of lesser known projects like Hoath and Necroslut) we may ever know. But if you can repeat the same few basic riffs for 70 minutes straight and impress a jaded old man like myself, that's really saying something. An album not to be missed.