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A summer home in the marshlands is looking promising now. - 26%

hells_unicorn, July 10th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, CCP Records

The ballad of the trend-hopper is an all too familiar tale in metal's five decade history, with most of its auspicious examples occurring during the 1990s. However, after the close of said dark chapter in metal's historic codex and the onset of the new millennium there were still plenty of bands looking to chase after the latest fad, and one of the lesser known and late to the party examples of this unfortunate phenomenon is the latter days of Austrian death metal outfit turned prognosticators of modernity Mortus. Originally cutting their teeth in the mid to late 90s as a loose affiliate of the melodic death metal craze that came roaring out of the Gothenburg, they managed a pair of respectable, albeit by the numbers outings with their 1996 debut EP Hopeless and its LP follow up The Beat Of Greed. As with some groups that are easily bored and quick to pivot their style, this quintet dropped some pretty clear hints with the very title of their third studio outing Exploring New Horizons, which saw them shedding much of their signature death metal trappings for a more marketable modern sound, a deviation which would not truly come to a head until their fourth and final offering Leaving The Swamps, i.e. the album under consideration.

At first glance, this album is nothing else if not a total headscratcher, as it's tough to determine just what the album art is trying to convey with what is assumedly the bottom half of grasshopper perched on a metal surface. The musical direction that unfolds has been noted in certain outlets just following this effort's 2003 release as being nu-metal, though none of the obnoxious traits that tend to typify said turn-of-the-millennium American musical abortion of a style are to be found here. If anything, the closest comparison would be to a throwback to the mid-90s groove/thrash sound, coming the closest to sounding like something off of Machine Head's Burn My Eyes with some occasional hints of Sepultura's Chaos A.D. and some light grunge trimmings. Vocalist Thomas "Thomson" Hirtenkauf often channels the gravely, baritone and oft out of tune growl that Robb Flynn has managed to make a career out of for the past 27 years, though he proves a little bit more proficient at singing in a clean and subdued fashion during the album's more quiet passages. Combined with a similarly derivative and largely stagnant songwriting approach, it's a sound that would have been novel in 1995, but less so in the days of Revolting Room and Supercharger.

The ultimate failure of these songs to really close the deal can be attributed to a combination of the obvious limitations that the style itself sets for its musicians, combined with the instrumentalists themselves insisting on doing everything entirely by the numbers. For practical purposes, Roland Moser and Ingmar Eggertsberger might as well be the same guy, as the guitar work doesn't really venture beyond basic, mid-paced, repetitive groove motifs with virtually no separation between each guitar. It's so punishingly basic that in order to cut up the monotony that they bring in Olemus guitarist Simon Ă–ller as a guest to throw in some guitar solos, which are competent but also fairly cut and dry even by latter day Dimebag Darrel standards. The rhythm section is basically sort of there, keeping time and the arrangement together, but apart from a moderately involved bass intro on the somewhat Gothic, mid-paced closer "Evolution", there's nothing really noteworthy going on. Occasional fits of intrigue can be found here and there, like the more fast-paced thrashing character of "Just What We Are" and its shorter cousin "Compact", but at best it all comes up as a poor-man's Pantera with a greater amount of quirky quiet interludes thrown in.

When considering the rank mediocrity that permeates this entire album, combined with the fact that it tries to sell itself as the band leaving their flawed past behind for greener pastures, it's not terribly surprising that the band ended up folding tent almost immediately following its release. Even a smaller label like CCP Records wouldn't want to be seen carrying a band that considers something like this marketable, especially given the time period under consideration. It's unclear whether or not these songs would even carry much weight with the remnant of groove metal enthusiasts out there who are nostalgic for the days when thrash metal bands were slowing everything down and parading around in flannels like they were all suddenly from Seattle. Maybe someone looking for a poor man's Machine Head with some occasional flirtations with HIM might find this moderately appealing, but if this writer were ever to stumble into some sudden clairvoyant capabilities, the vision of this album's future is the same dustbin of history that third raters by a third rate style's standards like Skinlab and Damageplan's concurrent offerings are destined to occupy.

I just can't like this - 20%

PainMiseryDeath, March 17th, 2004

The first I had heard of this band was the Hopeless EP, which was decent enough to satisfy my desire for some melodic death metal. I then sought out the album Exploring New Horizons, which went in a bit of a new direction slowing things down a bit Most of the songs were somewhat bland, and the vocals sounded a lot different, sounding more like doom metal vocals, as well as some folk influenced vocals. The whole cd though, sounded the same and after a few listens became quite boring. I had no need to check out Leaveing the Sawmps, aside from the fact that I have no life and I felt maybe Mortus would do something interesting.

I was wrong. They have changed their sound even more since the Hopeless EP, and moved onto a more nu-metal sound. The first song reminds me of something Mushroomhead would do, especially the vocals. Damnit I just cant like this. Why any band would release an album like this is beyond me. The album as a whole shows little variation (big suprize) and has very few riffs. In fact the riffs that it does have, are simple, boring, unmemorable, and altogether lame. The clean vocals are horrible as well, do not get this - 20%