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Nice and memorable black metal - 80%

SilenceIsConsent, March 3rd, 2008

Mortum (along with quite a few other bands on the archives) are one of the bands from my own home state of New Jersey that I actually really like, and one that I have the closest connections to. I've known the guys in Mortum (in particular guitarist Adam K) for quite some time, so when they finally got out a demo after about a year and a half of playing as a cover band and then finally making some of their own stuff and solidifying their lineup with drummer Nick of Nachtseer, I was pretty happy (to say the least) to finally get a hold of their first recording, the Enslaved demo.

Enslaved is pretty nice for the most part. Nothing really groundbreaking or revolutionary here, but that does not make it bad. Rather, that is almost what makes it good. Though Mortum doesn't try anything new or crazy out on the Enslaved Demo , what's good about it is that it's memorable and it sounds good. Enslaved is loaded with five pretty nice black metal tunes that mix both pure straight up raw black metal and more melodic, dissonant work that combines all of Mortum's influences and works out pretty nicely. Sure there are a few flaws but for the most part it is not too bad at all.

The band Mortum is pretty tight and well cut out for the most part. Vocalist/bassist George is unique because he seems to concentrate a bit more on bass then he does on vocals. This is sort of a double edged sword however. George's bass lines are more unique (in the sense they do not totally follow along with the guitar) and don't go out of time yet flow along very nicely with the music. His vocals aren't too bad either, as they are truly black metal and are nicely clear to. The thing that kind of gets me is that there are many times George doesn't really seem to come up with good vocal patterns. It's not that he sings out of time, there just aren't a lot of really unique ways he sings the lyrics. He should work on this a bit more. Guitar work, done by Adam K is pretty nice. The riffs are very tight while being nice and dissonant while having plenty of that black metal tremolo picked riffs the "true kvlt" fans like. This is where the memorable part comes in. Instrumentally a lot of these songs are highly memorable, and a lot of this is do to Adam's guitar work and the riffs he comes up with. They are nice and get the job done uniquely, though there isn't really anything special. Drummer Nick is pretty nice to, as he has plenty of speed that a black metal drummer would require while making plenty of great fills, but also is very technical and doesn't just haphazardly blast beat away. Rather, he shows quite a bit of skill in terms of reservation and knows when to let go of the speed when required. This is good, because it shows Mortum has plenty of brains between all three musicians in this black metal power trio to go around.

Even more unique is the music. This music is best described as raw melodic black metal with a nice dose of German thrash metal influence, but mildly progressive. For the most part it doesn't stray too far away from this formula, but there are some highlights such as the clean guitar part in Endless Fucking Depression and the riff and drum changes in We Came From Below. All the songs however have many riff changes and beat changes, which makes Mortum sort of unique in how they carry out their approach to the black metal genre. Songs weave in and out of various degrees of speed with a variety of riffs thrown in for uniqueness. But rather then make these changes sound schiztophrenic, they all just nicely flow into each other and sound great. This makes the music much more memorable and interesting to listen to.

The production isn't even too bad. Though the drum tone is too flat and the bass isn't well pronounced as are George's vocals, and is maybe a bit too guitar heavy. But this is alright. Nothing really bad in terms of this area.

All in all, Mortum's Enslaved demo is a worthy purchase and one that will entertain any black metal fan who would like a listen.