GDOB2-30CH-001.cdrMetal is the Heinz Ketchup of musical genres. I’m not saying it’s only worthwhile alongside grilled cheese or as an ingredient in meatloaf, but rather that we have an ever-expanding version of Heinz’s “57 Varieties” tagline when it comes to subgenres. We don’t know what “progressive” truly entails anymore, what is or isn’t really black metal always seems to be up for debate, and through the salt and the flames I’m still confused as to how “brutal death metal with hardcore breakdowns” somehow isn’t deathcore. Eyes already glazed over? Well, I’ve got some good news: Italy’s Mefitic spend their debut LP Woes of Mortal Devotion emphatically pigeonholing themselves into a specific and recognizable sound and making life easier for everyone.

Mefitic pursue the time-honoured tradition of pillaging Incantation’s back catalogue and using their ill-gotten gains to craft something inferior whilst interjecting a smidgen of black metal into the proceedings a la Wrathprayer as opposed to the greatly more black metal oriented Incantation-isms of Profanatica. This is the murky and cavernous sort of death metal that shifts tempos on the regular and is anchored down by gurgling vocals reminiscent of Craig Pillard, with Enthroned styled black metal used primarily as window dressing. These are all things I, and I’m assuming many of you, enjoy, but we’ve come this far with decidedly unexcited language. This is no accident, as try as I may, I simply can’t bring myself to care about what Mefitic are doing here.

Woes of Mortal Devotion has a moderate number of parts I find myself enjoying, which may seem to contradict what I said literally one sentence ago (don’t worry, it doesn’t). The filthy “Grievous Subsidence” reminded me of both Disma and Funebrarum, acting as a serviceable opener that, while inchoate, seemed to promise murk, depravity, and riffs. Mefitic employs some unsettling dissonance in “Eroding the Oblates of the Lord” that recall Portal and their sister band Impetuous Ritual’s attempts to keep our gaze fixed on the abyss long enough for it to gaze into us, but interjects some straightforward riffing to keep things varied instead of just wantonly diving off the dissonant deep end. The song briefly features a pummeling riff that sounds like Celtic Frost, and contrasted with the dissonant sections it becomes fairly effective.

Mefitic Woes of Mortal Devotion 02

Being able to write decent parts of songs isn’t an issue for Metific, but being able to write good songs on a whole is. The biggest issue is that each song just happens, jumping from one riff to the next and meandering about at varying tempos until eventually one song ends and the next one is in the chamber and ready to do the exact same thing. Combine this with inconsistent riffcraft throughout and the band’s staunch refusal to deviate from their path by one musical inch and you wind up with songs like “Pain” that throw together a bunch of riffs that sound like Incantation with the occasional blackened touch, but go in one ear and out the other. “The Tomb of Amaleq” has no real momentum and zero sense of direction, making the slow parts drag and the fast parts feel tacked on as a forced contrast. Like the majority of this record, “Noxious Epiclesis” plays filthy and narrow-minded riffs (which is not at all inherently bad) that really don’t do anything for me as I’ve heard it done better countless times. Scattershot songwriting, overuse of nondescript monotonous tremolo picking, and a dearth of killer riffs make Woes of Mortal Devotion an exercise in staleness and redundancy, and a feeling of “I’d rather hear something else” pervaded each listen.

What Woes of Mortal Devotion represents is a surface-level success in writing murky death metal; a case of style vastly overshadowing substance. The production is unexciting and cliché but suits the music well enough, caking everything in sludge but still allowing for most aspects to be heard with some degree of clarity. It may give some fleeting joy to die-hard devotees who need a constant new stream of this stuff as it ticks all of the right stylistic boxes in a workmanlike fashion. A hodgepodge of gears tossed into a cardboard box instead of a well-designed machine, Woes of Mortal Devotion held some interest here and there but much more often than not, it left me disappointed and bored.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Release Date: Out Worldwide: 06.15.2015

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  • Martin Knap

    Arioch points out that “A band that claims to play Black Metal must always have Satanism and nothing but Satanism as the highest priority in their music and concept as well as in their personal lives” and that neither the voice, nor the sound and musical style make a black metal band. He considers “[d]estructive Satanism and fanatic Devil worship” to be “the very foundation of everything labelled ‘Black Metal'”.

    • Feytalist

      Eh. Gaahl says something different, as did Euronymous. No one person can have creative control over a whole genre.

      • Martin Knap

        sure, I thought it would create a nice contrast to the ruminations about sub-genres above. I was pretty amazed when I saw Fenriz in one documentary saying how great it was when he and his cabal decided how bands should play metal in Oslo. But hell – they have artistic license to be assholes or fanatics. One must be diven to have a vision and make something new. The rest of us have to live with belatedness, in the phrase of Herold Bloom.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Brilliant job with the Bloom reference. You’re probably more familiar with him than I (so please correct me if I’m mistaken), but in ‘The Western Canon’ he basically made a list of authors who he felt defined Western literature, and argued that you can’t escape the influence of their works when contributing to literature. Fenriz and the other second wavers “decid[ing] how bands should play metal in Oslo” may as well have defined how what we call black metal is played for everybody, becoming something akin to a musical version of Bloom’s idea of canon, albeit a very narrow-minded one.

          That said, death metal and a crude death-thrash need to be a part of the black metal canon too, as the second wave bands were generally oriented towards those sounds in their very early days and then purposely rebelled against it (No Mosh No Core No Trends No Fun). If anything this would be a fun rabbit hole for a music historian interested in metal to explore.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Isn’t Bloom also the one that coined the term “Anxiety of Influence”? I’ve lost touch with the state of cultural studies since first coming into contact with it during my time as an English undergrad. From what I remember, there was a lot of debate over the literary canon, which tends to celebrate mostly white dead male writers. I remember analyzing sitcoms and ads for underlying cultural assumptions about privilege, gender roles, etc. Very revealing.

            Anyway, hearing the name “Bloom” reminded me that Bloomsday is coming up. Go have a Guinness in honour of Joyce’s masterpiece!


          • Martin Knap

            yes, I see “Anxiety of Influence” is also a book by him. About the his elitism: I don’t think he was against modern literature, and modern literature has a problematic relation with tradition (European, dead white male tradition) where you have low culture and high culture.

            I guess it comes down to the big question of how does the modern man relate to culture and tradition; what’s the nature of his life form and how does it relate (or not) to other life forms.

            I would say that you don’t have to choose between elitism and celebrating stupidity, Medieval or Baroque art was for everybody, today we can do the same. I think Bloom sees that, but I can’t speak for him since I didn’t read “The Western Canon” or the other book.

          • Martin Knap

            Yes, I read another of his books – Kabbalah and Criticism (it’s actually only three medium length essays) – where he discussed influence. He has a bizarre theory or model of influence based on Kabbalistic theology which I’m not sure if it’s really necessary to have such detailed theory, but in any case he sees artistic creation as a better or worse (he says weaker or stronger) take on what has been done before. So for him there are strong artists which create a strong poem (he talks only about poets, but it obviously has very broad applications, he keeps mentioning the psyche at the same time he discusses poems) which then everybody has to take account of. He sees the relation of the poet and his predecessor in almost Freudian terms, so that he kind of loves the poems but also defends himself against their influence to establish his own identity (that’s where all the Kabbalah comes in). I see it as a very useful way to interpret art, including metal :-)

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            That sounds like an interesting interpretation, I’ll track those essays down ASAP. The most interesting aspect to me is the essential strife between poet and predecessor, new and old attempting to surmount each other. Great art, I’d wager, would be found in that strife where the artist’s love of the old and desire for the new assert themselves at once, bringing out the best elements in each.

          • Martin Knap

            It’s actually only 65 pages. I have the book in front of me and the write-up on the cover says “It is the keystone in the arch, clarifying the development of his earlier books, pointing to the direction of his later ones.” So if you interested in such topics, especially criticism, you get a lot of music for a little money, as we Czechs say :-) The text is a little dense but clearly written, I only occasionally didn’t get to the bottom of what he’s saying, but that was maybe only a sentence or two. Then Kabbalah is of course a convoluted system so when he fits his theory of influence on it it gets kind of complicated, but on the other hand it’s more interesting and (maybe? – as I said, I haven’t figured it out) insightful than if he would just put it plainly: There’s influence and that’s it.

          • Thatguy

            Well put – there is always a canon in every art form – the artist can work with it or against it but it is always there

            Telling people there is only one way a thing can be done though is just yet another way of being a dick

            Oh, and ketchup is indeed rubbish – but go for it if you like

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I’ll never get how some people put that stuff on everything, as it’s gross on 99% of food. My cousin knew a guy who’d put it on chocolate chip cookies and even pizza, which is just barbaric.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          This conversation is why I love AMG!

          • Celaeno

            ^^^ exactly

  • Norfair Legend

    Ketchup and grilled cheese? Gross…unless you are Thai, Thai people put ketchup on everything.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      No they don’t

      • Maybe he’s thinking of coconut.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          The only people that use tomato sauce in Thailand are English and Australian tourists

          • Oh I believe you. From what I’ve seen on the telly, they like to use as much chilies as us Mexicans.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            It’s a form of cultural insanity…I love Thailand and its food…and can never understand my fellow Aussies queing up for melted cheese sandwiches or crappy burgers when surrounded by the most amazing curries..I love Mexican chillies BTW

          • From what I gather, it’s really varied and with a lot of influences, much like us. I love our food, but sometimes I wish the variety I see on other places.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Damn I thought the food in Mexico was incredibly varied but i guess thats the difference between traveling around and living in a place…I’d say Thai food isn’t as regionally varied as Mexico but is fantastic if you like decapitating curries it’s the place to be :)

          • Oh Mexican food is varied but usually you have to travel to other regions to actually experience that variety. I’d say it’s tightly knitted to the cultural experience, so in a way is like travelling to another country to get the most authenticity. Kinda like actually go to Italy to get real Italian food.

    • basenjibrian

      Sriracha sauce is not Ketchup

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Come on, grilled cheese is the one thing worth dipping in ketchup! Ketchup really is the weakest condiment though, and people who put it on everything are insane. I’m also Canadian, not Thai. Maybe we’re weird over here?

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Speaking as a Canadian as well, grilled cheese with ketchup rocks. One of the few meals my kids all like. We do things a little differently up here. For example, apparently only Canadians put vinegar on their fries, along with the usual ketchup and salt.

        • coffinbong

          New Englanders use malt vinegar instead of ketchup as well, mostly in Rhode Island though… trve vinegar supremacy über alles

      • Catsup is fucking amazing on fries, burgers and nothing else. Mustard is incredible on hot dogs, coneys, kielbasa, grilled cheese, pretzels, ham, turkey, my finger etc. Mayo is great on turkey, in tuna salad, chicken salad, and fucking tartar sauce. But the greatest condiment of them all???? BEER.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Even on a burger I don’t care for it. If I grill ’em at home I don’t put it on, and same goes for restaurants. Fast food burgers are pretty nasty so I don’t tend to ever eat it. But beer? Goes with everything! Best thing to put beer on is another beer though, by far.

          • You know what goes good with bacon? MORE BACON.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            More bacon…and more beer!

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I think the AMG crew should start a crappy death metal band called ‘Disqusted’, all lyrics being based off of comments. The amount of upvotes a comment has must equate to the amount of riffs played before the comment comes to an end.

    So if a comment simply says ‘Hi’, and has 18 up-votes, I pray whoever takes on the role of vocals has mighty lungs.