Now this is a pleasant surprise. With all the funeral doom, pagan folk metal, and post-black I’ve been subjecting myself to lately, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve had enough time to deeply reflect and wax philosophically with myself for quite a while. Sometimes, you just want to sit back, relax, and get steamrolled for almost a good hour without any form of forgiveness or breathing space. Enter Brooklyn, New York’s Mortals and their second full-length (and first for Relapse), Cursed To See The Future. How well does this all-female three-piece do the job? I could say “it’s like Gallhammer… but actually good,” but that’s cheating.
As soon as “View From the Tower” blasts off, you are in for a world of hurt, and you will enjoy every second. If you ever wondered how High on Fire would sound if they traded in their stoner sludge for some Darkthrone and hired a young, more venomous Chuck Schuldiner to scream for them, you wouldn’t be off the mark by much. There’s plenty of meaty riffs to be heard here courtesy of guitarist Elizabeth Cline and bassist Lesley Wolf, obviously giving Matt Pike and company a run for their money. Wolf’s voice is quite acidic and vitriolic, adding a suitable filth to the music. But it’s Caryn Havlik’s drumming that steals the show here and on the rest of the album, whether it’s her blasting or her worship at the Altar of Des Kensel during her more primal fills. A really damn good way to start off the album if there ever was one.
In fact, every song here conjures up images of the three fair bloodstained warriors, perched upon black horses, cleaving all in their paths, swords drawn and ready. “Devilspell” takes no prisoners for the first two minutes before slowing down for a very, VERY brief respite before galloping off to war yet again. Album closer “Anchored in Time” (being the shortest song on here) slows things to a comparable crawl, but no less potent or ominous, with Wolf howling away venomously while Cline’s guitar lurches to the end. But again, Havlik’s relentless pounding is front-and-center here, taking no prisoners and cementing her as a force to watch out for.
While I enjoyed my time with Cursed To See The Future, there are some bones to pick, and some are fairly big. The production is squashed within an inch of its life here, and while I particularly enjoy the performances by all three women, there’s no sonic breathing space to be had here. I love my music pummeling, don’t get me wrong, but the actual mix was way too high on certain parts, especially the cymbals. Also, there are only six songs here, with only two being below the eight-minute mark, and the longer songs do wear on for too long. However, I like to see where they go with this on later albums.
Cursed To See The Future is quite a way to make a mark in the world of sludge metal. I see great things ahead for Mortals, and they crafted one hell of an album for themselves. With some editing and a better mix, they could have one hell of a future for themselves that I’m sure won’t be cursed.