Italy is not a country that is renowned for its contributions to rock and/or metal, and as a matter of fact, with its inclusion of Vatican City, it is one of the most religious nations on the planet; just don’t remind Mortuary Drape of that (or Fleshgod Apocalypse). This group have been together since 1986 and been hailing Satan with full length albums since 1995′s evil All The Witches Dance. Frankly, these guys were unknown to me until I attended MDF X last year, and even then I sadly missed them. However, after the show I read a write up about them and made sure to become familiar with their music, and you’ll be very happy that I did. It is an intricate combination of death, doom, and black metals contained within all the hooded secrecy only the most evil of bands can conjure up.
Starting off with chants to the dark lord , channelling the linguistic prowess of Dante Alighieri - along with growls emanating from ‘the other side’ – set an ominous tone for the rest of the album to follow. This intro gives way to “Primordial“, and then Mortuary Drape make their official grand entrance, as their genre shredding style erupts from the speakers. Their music is a fusion of black and death metal with a very strong bass component in the mix deftly performed by their bassist known only as Diabolic Obsession. Through his frenetic and staggering playing he certainly earns the name! The guitar sections shred much more than most black metal of this era, and it bears a major resemblance to a less sharp, but just as effective Mercyful Fate; a comparison not to be taken lightly.
Considering that “Astral Bewitchment” was my original taste of the band, I continue to favour it above the rest of the album slightly, with lyrics like “All presents conjured, explosive force and lethal current // Soon you will be fallen into the hand of a sinister doom // The man ruled by four elements – he has been cursed“, who can blame me? The structure is simple and allows the driving riffs to lead the charge before the band dive bomb into several solos, while the ample bass provides a sublime rhythm section certainly without equal. Vocalist Wilderness Perversion also performs percussion duties for the band, taking a page out of the Chris Reifert book of death metal.
“Funeral Chant“ begins with plenty of style, reminiscent of the earlier days of heavy metal, before introducing some very ambient guitar parts that may have been helped by the then-recent development of Scandinavian extreme metal, as the atmosphere is something easy to get swallowed up in. Maniac of Sacrifice and Old Necromancer serve as the dual axemen for this Mediterranean quartet, trading off their duties with each other as if they were trying to summon a demonic K.K. Downing or Glenn Tipton - for their solos hit nearly as hard. “Larve“‘s second verse includes “Ritual is surrounded by objects with their energy // Disorded power as interior confusion who evoke them“, strongly pushing the occult envelope with overt satanism, unlike genre progenitors Venom.
“13th Way” is a song about witches and their chants that summon power from beyond: “By the fire, by wind, by water, by earth // Drawing the sign of all exorcism // Chanting the song of the atavic reborn // Detaching from this reality.” (Side note: 13 is a lucky number in Italy and 17 is unlucky, so it’s a good thing this song is currently being examined by an English speaker from the US or this wouldn’t make any sense).
Finishing up the album is the very Hellhammer influenced “Occult Abyss“, during which the band take a slow crawl right up to a blistering pace, resembling the rides once put together by the death metal pioneer Tom G. Warrior. The bass is still as wobbly as ever and is incredibly hard to ignore, yet its insistent audibility makes you wonder what a lot of bands are missing by leaving that minute detail out of the mix. The band also make sure to melt that dumb grin off of your face once more before they return to the dark void that they call home, with a guitar section that truly conveys the band’s style (always an easy one to help win me over, and I surely hope it has done the same thing for you too).
The band’s hometown of Alessandria, Piedmont in northern Italy made it easier for me to believe that their music tastes came from some of the more active countries that border them such as Germany, France, and Switzerland. However, most of Italy remained quiet in the extreme metal field until Mortuary Drape entered the fold. This is a vile, evil statement of an album; the occult influences drip, and what better for a band surrounded by the specter of religion to let their feeling be known? For those in need of a constant flow of rare and obscure extreme metal, look no further than All The Witches Dance. Feel free to drop me a comment about a band you’d like to see covered, or just leave one as a sign of good faith. For what I’m currently listening to you can always check out my Last.fm page. Here is some Italian metal as well as some black metal and another classic too. Blast away until next week!