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Interesting though not mandatory - 77%

Noktorn, November 15th, 2008

Listening to this, a compilation of Mortician's earliest material, is quite a strange experience considering their later direction. Those who hate Mortician as most of us know them would be advised to investigate this release simply due to how different it is. This compilation is practically a case study as to how the smallest of aesthetic differences can add up to a world of change in music. In many ways, this barely sounds like the band that Mortician would become, and it's a marvelous piece of history for this long-running band.

The most obvious change in the equation is the presence of a human drummer. Just saying that doesn't do much to convey just how sweeping a difference it is compared to the drum machine-driven works of the future, so it'll necessitate a bit of explanation. As anyone who's programmed a drum machine knows, perhaps the biggest pain of it is programming fills. You can't make them sound very natural, you have to keep coming up with new ones each time, it's hard to get them to work in the context of the music. It's for this reason that so much drum programming in metal is so minimalist, with zero fills and simply abruptly shifting rhythms in their place: it's infinitely more convenient. With a human drummer, of course, it's infinitely simpler to add that extra level of complexity to the performance. This is the biggest change to be found on this record: where utterly minimalist drum tracks would be found later, here is a flowing, somewhat sloppy, definitively HUMAN performance which removes the cold, mechanical feel of later Mortician and replaces it with the warmth of an actual body behind the drum kit.

With the presence of a human drummer come a few different, rather unintentional changes. Tempos never get as excruciatingly fast during the blast sections as they do with the machine, making for something much more like 'traditional' death/grind than what one would later here. The fast parts are slower and the slow parts are faster, and it's amazing how these slight tempo changes can alter the entire feel of the music. Similarly, the usage of an actual miked kit instead of static, unchanging samples sets the music on fire with an intensity that can only be conveyed by the natural lack of evenness in the human performance.

Really what you get here is a look at the mechanics of Mortician, which have overall remained rather unchanged over the years. It's amazing to hear what Mortician actually is once the speed has been toned down and humans are on all instruments: a band that worships at the altars of Celtic Frost and Napalm Death, giving the former band's minimal riffs new intensity with the fury and speed of the latter band. These influences are barely noticeable when the drum machine and ultra-low vocals are dominating the soundscape, but here they are for all to hear.

Musically this is much more in line with the expectations and desires of oldschool death and grind fans. It's more riffy, the vocals aren't as ridiculously guttural, and, as one would expect, the rhythms are warmer and more conducive to headbanging. Production on the studio material isn't very good, and the live tracks are significantly worse, but they convey the necessary weight with a bit of extra noise to rough things up a bit. Nearly all the tracks on this release are featured on later albums, making this not exactly a necessity as far as completionism goes, but it's nice to hear these tracks in such a different form.

This has some curiosity potential for those who dislike later Mortician, though I can't say I'd expect such a listener's feelings to be especially different, as the heart of the band has been and always will be the same. It's certainly recommended for dedicated Mortician fans who would like to hear the strange past of the band. Overall, not a mandatory purchase, but a very interesting and historical one indeed.

For Collectors And Fans Only - 70%

Cochino, January 6th, 2007

This is a very interesting album if you're into Mortician. If you don't know them I recommend you to start with another album (Zombie Apocalypse or Domain of Death), and if you don't like Mortician, you never will so forget it.

The only exclusive studio tracks in this album are Mortal Massacre and Redrum (well, they're not exclusive, they were recorded in their demo, and released as 7", but you know what I mean). The rest were all re-recorded in full lengths, with improved quality. The cool thing about this compil' is that you can hear Mortician when they weren't that brutal killing machine from beyond this world. You can hear them with a real drummer and crappy sound. Also you can hear how brutal they already sounded live, back in the early 90s, since you got a bunch of live tracks with a surprisingly good quality.

So that's it. If you're a fan of Mortician you will like it, but if not, this doesn't bring anything new to the table.