Album: The Plague
Label: Black Lion Records
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: 31st July, 2017
Does the world really need more Melodic Death Metal? Seriously, there has been a glut in this market for over a decade now (at the least), with plenty of bands that are technically competent and write decent songs, but not a whole lot who stand out above the riffing pack. Just like about any subgenre of the Metal we all love, there are too many bands to keep track of and too many to lend an ear to. So that question brings us to Mordenial and their new album, “The Plague.” Do these guys cut the mustard, or do they just cut the cheese?
Mordenial was formed in early 2000, and recorded a 2-track demo, “From Ashes Risen,” in 2002. The project sat for a while until 2008, when founders Fiebig (drums) and Kjetil (guitar) started to write for their first album, completing “Where Angels Fall” and releasing it in 2015, this despite years of tumult, facing recording problems, and having trouble finding a singer. Eventually, Fiebig stepped up and became the singer/lyricist/drummer. They added Martin to bass and Mordenial was ready to roll. Now they have brought us “The Plague,” a concept album that loosely ties together concepts of “plague” from futuristic to ancient perspectives, examining how people justify terrible acts by pretending to be chosen by a god or gods.
So what about the music?
There’s good stuff in here: lots of melodic guitars, lots of crunch, consistent, thumping drums, a bass that resides just right in the mix, and better than decent vocals. The songs themselves are solid and a grade above competent. There’s a mix of many styles here, and they all compliment the compositions, but mostly the guys stick with melodic death, throwing in a breakdown here and there and some nice flavorings of thrash.
“The Plague” opens the record with an acoustic passage that slides right into some thrashing death and the whole album takes off after this. The song sets the table for what is to come and is an excellent introduction to what Mordenial have to offer, and again, they’re good.
“Daylight is Gone” keeps the pace up and forward and here we settle into more of a groove, the song replete with cool riffs and a slightly above mid-paced march. The song continues its relentless trek into war and is probably my favorite track on the album. Nice martial drumming, too.
“All Has Vanished” offers some more traditional metal to the plate, opening with some really solid riffs with many melodic flourishes as it proceeds. This one is a head-bobber with a nice, smooth flow. Definitely one of the softer moments on the record but it still rocks.
“Follow the Cross” brings back the acoustic intro, followed by thunderous riffs and then gallops off into the sunset. This is a pure rocker, lots of thrash, lots of guttural vocals, with a steady stride to the drums that keeps it from running off the rails. And man, does it have a sweet guitar solo two and a half minutes in before it returns to the charge.
Mordenial have crafted an album that is pretty good but won’t blow your socks off. This record is above average in every way possible, from the songs, the guitar, the vocals, the drumming, the bass, and to the production (clean and fluid), but nothing here stands out in any dramatic way. There is nothing new added to the subgenre and thus it leaves you with a feeling of treading water. It’s good, let there be no doubt, and I’d take Mordenial over most of the Melodic Death bands out there, but again, it doesn’t make me want to leap around the room and punch holes in the walls. This is well-above generic but doesn’t rise to greatness. However, given the talent involved, I think this record is a stepping stone for these guys and can totally see them accelerating to that next level with their next release. They’ve got the goods, and they can deliver, but only the future knows whether they will.
1. The Plague
2. Daylight is Gone
3. Burning Soil
5. No Empathy
6. Save You All
7. All Has Vanished
8. Follow the Cross
10. The End
Total Playing Time: 44:21