It’s easy to be disparaging about a band that, on first listen, sound like every fucking other metal group that thinks the harder and faster and louder they play, the more they’ll be accepted by an increasingly cynical-about-change musical community.
Mortad, who unfortunately fall into this bracket, make themselves hard to be liked. The Myth of Purity, their first full-length, follows pretty closely on from last year’s EP Pandemic Paranoia both thematically and musically. It’s not difficult to take a shot at what the lyrics are going to be like; Misanthropy? Check. Disaffection? Check. Condoleeza Rice fudging herself silly on Countdown? Probably not. We live in a sad old world where bands take regurgitated and overused archetypes as the basis for their musical drive, because yes, as metal fans we do enjoy being part of a pissed-off collective, but we aren’t so gormless that any generic call-to-arms will stir something in our blackened hearts.
Album opener, All That’s Born Must Be Destroyed, is a perfect example of how to pursue a glorious end, and pull up short. The subject matter is hackneyed and overdone, and the music is a decent death/thrash offering, but too generic and consequently inoffensive to cause any real damage. It’s a shame because Mortad have pulled out a handful of riffs from the Carcass pot and take their cues from Arch Enemy, but, for the most part, sound less than the sum of their parts.
With all this being said, Mortad give a decent portrayal of searing and dissonant music; Somi Arian’s vocals are a little overwrought, but stand up in comparison to the melodic death metal screams of Angela Gossow. The only major disappointment is when the production overplays Miss Arian’s voice effect and makes her sound like she’s shouting everything from the top of Mt Snowdon on a windy day; this hardly recurs enough to cause any major grievance, however.
The guitars, conversely, are furious and punch drop-beat riffs into every orifice, leaving very little breathing space. The melodic elements are few and far between and rely more on overlaid synth and high-end guitar as opposed to vocal variation. Songs like The Heights are a good example of doing this well, combining devastating low-end chug, splintered harmonics and a catchy chorus, only being let down slightly by the derogatory wind-tunnel breakdown vocals that Mortad insist on having present throughout The Myth of Purity.
However where Mortad show most promise is during moments of absolute fury; the title track opens up to cascade back-breaking noise down onto you, only to move into a song that displays some of the more progressive elements of Mortad’s sounds, complete with one of the better solo interludes that I’ve heard of late. Over half way through, Mortad wield that blistering hammer of noise at you again and it’s devastating.
From the sublime to the ridiculous as Mortad introduce an incoherent stuttering child of a song, I’m Not Interested In Being Interesting, that compounds all the angst and musical competence of a piss-soaked flannel. It’s a demonstration of the band veering away from damaging, persistent frenzy in search of more alternative climes, and while it’s an admirable pursuit, it falls flat as it’s a badly constructed piece of music.
At times, The Myth of Purity seems like such a promising affair with one of the more brutal and interesting outings into death metal of recent times, yet it has the ability, at the same time, to seem utterly contrived and overworked – too insistent on being brutal to actually convey that very feeling.
Overall, it’s worthy of your time if you have patience to suck out the moments of glory that are, unfortunately, few and far between.