Desecresy‘s fifth full-length The Mortal Horizon is a conservative metal record. I refer not to its political bent, which I make no claims to know. The notion that all art is inherently and unavoidably political is a bit of pretentious hogwash from dimwitted hacks who are unknowingly channeling Mussolini’s “all within the state, nothing outside the state” line, and then adding the remaining “nothing against the state” to the end when they pronounce moral or political, instead of aesthetic or artistic, judgment on a work in leaden prose befitting of a perpetually stoned and permanently mediocre undergrad. That, or one enjoys to quote – nay, poorly paraphrase – George Orwell without having read much (if any) of his work. Option C is both, and a convenient, reliable barometer for those critics whose writing ought to be regarded with more than the usual caution.
Desecresy is conservative by way of being aware they’ve inherited something good, to crib the excellent contemporary philosopher Sir Roger Scruton’s understanding of the term. Desecresy has inherited the Finnish melodic death-doom sound, and is obviously aware of its goodness along with its inner workings. The songs crawl with downtuned riffs, dragging old Convulse, Purtenance, and the filthier parts of Abhorrence through the mud and grime while implementing melodies that remind of Amorphis and the most consonant parts of Abhorrence purposefully trudge above, as if walking precariously on a partially submerged log in a swamp.
This apolitically conservative bent that populates all of Desecresy’s work is crucial to understanding what’s so valuable about what the band, now a solo project, are doing. As seen everywhere, it’s easier and initially more exciting to be against something than for it; there’s something appealing in transgression, and one needs look no further than the relevance of bands from Anal Cunt to Deafheaven to notice this. Desecresy offers nothing of that sort, but instead a deep well dug in a heavily circumscribed area that will reward those who wish to spend more than a few listens digesting a record. The structural makeup of much of The Mortal Horizon is nearly exquisite, and “Horizon Blazing” provides a prime example. A simple and mournful melody is layered over a riff that churns, evolves, and devolves, as if reveling in its own instability. This takes the basic idea of Amorphis’s “In Hiding” chorus, puts it on a far shakier foundation, extends it by introducing more variations, and drags it forcefully down into the far more menacing territory of Abhorrence.
The Mortal Horizon achieves a consistent and more importantly, compelling and worthwhile atmosphere through deft songwriting choices. While it never goes to the consonant lengths Amorphis did with their melodies, this is nonetheless heavily melodic death metal that cannot possibly be conflated with melo-death. “Concealed Depths” has some absolutely disgusting old-school Finnish riffing that’s expertly merged with typically Finnish melancholy over the top, achieving a great synthesis of the aggression of Convulse and Purtenance with the compelling melodic nature of Amorphis in a way I’ve not heard before. Likewise, “Atrophoid” has an utterly crushing monstrosity of a riff that most death metal bands would kill for underneath a death-doom lead that rivals Asphyx’s expertise in that area, but is distinctly Finnish instead of Dutch.
There are myriad other compelling details present here, and a proper appreciation of what Desecresy is doing on The Mortal Horizon takes possibly even more listens than I’ve given it, as I’m still finding little details and subtleties in every crevice on each listen. As I understand it, the goal of The Mortal Horizon was to continue the Finnish tradition of death metal in a way consonant with the trailblazers but not end up overly derivative of their work, being different without jettisoning the essence of what makes this sort of death metal what it is. In the same sense of Confucius’s idea of the succession of rulers, Desecresy is adding to a dynasty by understanding, mastering, and then working within what’s there with their unique understanding and respect for tradition guiding the way. The production is exactly what’s needed, being oddly clean but still a bit discomforting, revealing everything to the listener but nonetheless requiring a bit of effort (and perhaps decent headphones) to hear it all. This is the stuff close and repeated listens are made of, and those with the time and wherewithal to dive headlong into a record can safely assume that Desecresy will handsomely reward their time and effort.