Thursday, March 3, 2011

Among the Mortals - Of Ignorance and Dismissal (2011)

Among the Mortals bear a passing similarity to their fellow Finnish melodic death acts due to their choice in instrumentation, but there is quite a lot of atmosphere to their self-released debut which we might miss in the admittedly more brazen tones of a Kalmah or Norther. Well plotted, but not entirely complex guitar lines, synthesizer and pianos, and gutturals in the vein of Amorphis and older Sentenced are all the hallmarks of this duo. While the lower quality of the recording here might seem detrimental to those inoculated by the massive production of those better known acts, Of Ignorance and Dismissal is nonetheless a reason to get excited, because the songs are certainly present, if the budget is not.

Among the Mortals hearkens the listener back to a rare breed of melodic, progressive death that is perhaps more prevalent in the earlier works of French acts of Yyrkoon or Symbyosis, perhaps a touch of England's Bal-Sagoth; an archaic and crystalline diatribe of graceful melodies run up against the bulkhead of the far darker vocals. They can pull of instrumentals like the progressive guitar and piano piece "Distant Mist" with its outbreaks of lead work, or the classical acoustic guitar piece "Hannah", or even the 8+ minute "Pygmalion" which courses through a number of dynamics that curiously reflect the desperation and awkward romance of the Greek figure. But the greater fraction of the album deals in a mix of heavier, crisp guitar riffs and vocals among the swerving crescendos and finer geography of "Ad Noctum", "Weep, You Lifeless" and "The Latter Day Rebels". In addition to the grunt vocals, there are some narrative cleans and snarls used, but never to as great effect.

With so much going on, Of Ignorance and Dismissal often feels more like an expansive 70s or 80s prog rock opus ala Yes, only dowsed in the theatrics of death metal. It creates this unique, psychedelic atmosphere and then submerges the audience despite its flaws. Within the 54 minutes, they've written a great deal of music, with a good variety of guitars, and they don't always stick, but this is more the fault of the mix than the notation. The leads can feel a bit wiry while the rhythms aren't quite so powerful as they might be in a thicker tone. However, this thinness does give it a particular elegance that it might not otherwise construe, and it meshes well with the lyrics of love, loss and transience. Among the Mortals clearly have a great deal of ambition, and while their compositions might not yet bear the most striking emotional resonance, what they offer is unique among a whole flock of sound-a-likes. For that reason alone, anyone into melodic death or prog/death (later era Death, for example) might deem to give this a listen, with a free download link at the band's page there's not much excuse to miss it.

Verdict: Win [7/10]
(I do not wish nor do I ask)

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