Mortals – Cursed to See the Future


Much of the time I tend to shy away from bands that are getting a lot of buzz. At least at first. Not because I don’t trust the hype – and I don’t – but because, well, I don’t want to be one of those guys who loves everything everyone else loves. Enter Mortals. I’ve seen a lot of virtual horns being raised about this trio but having not heard their Death Ritual EP I didn’t jump right away. Maybe I should start trusting some hype because this band has all the making of the “next big thing” on debut LP Cursed to See the Future.

Mortals hail from Brooklyn. Not surprisingly there’s a fair amount of withering black metal entrenched into their sound. Brooklyn is a veritable hot bed of USBM right now. However, Brooklyn isn’t exactly your typical sludge breeding ground. No swamps. No forests or mountains. And the beards are all fashion over function. But Mortals balance their searing black metal with massive and progressive sludge.

Take “The Summoning” for example. It starts with a sludgy riff clearly designed for caving in even the hardest of skulls, drummer Caryn Havlik delivering the killing blows with a complete disregard for the safety of her kit. It’s painful, sure, but that riff is just so killer you’ll be begging for more. Mortals wield terrible might on this tune – and the rest of them – with a cruel tone and even crueler vocals from bassist/vocalist Lesley Wolf. But as the listener is propelled through a series of black metal runs and fiery sludge riffs it becomes clear that the riffs are precisely what Mortals are all about.

Guitarist Elizabeth Cline is a bottomless source of horn-raising awesomeness. That’s a stupid line, I know, but trust me, listening to Cursed is an endless parade of “fuck yeah!” moments. Her trenchant BM blasts cut deep to the bone as Wolf’s bass snarls like a beast waiting to pounce. Their transitions from that biting BM to (subtle) groovy sludge and back again, with even a touch of doom, can be swift but never cumbersome. Their grafting of styles is seamless and yields a superior hybrid.

Cursed to See the Future is both oppressive and expressive. At all times intense, rhythms gallop away into battle, prog leanings inject an intangible level of depth, and paint-peeling vocals will have you fleeing for sanctuary among the shadows.

As Mortals shift gears and change pace it feels like the gathering of clouds is swiftly blown away (“Series of Decay”). The entire album begs for volume and the grasping of juicy invisible blood oranges. Massive and momentous riffs penetrate deep into the pleasure centres of the brain and take up permanent residence.

A brooding atmosphere is cast over their High on Fire propulsiveness as it reigns over an empire of scorched earth. Their blackened sludge coils like a noose, strangling the life with apocalyptic terror from a once bright future. Their future is bright however. For a band to already be this accomplished at molding gargantuan power into captivating songcraft is a rare feat indeed. It’s a wonder that metal this caustic, infectious and overpowering can be created by mere humans. These are not your ordinary Mortals.

Available from Relapse Records July 8, 2014.

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9.0 Rating