With a name as depressing and hopeless as Mortichnia, it shouldn’t be surprising that this five-piece Irish outfit creates dark, brooding, blackened doom meant to squash all happiness from your life. Debut album Heir to Scoria and Ash personifies this despair perfectly and foreshadows the destructive conclusion of the world as we know it. Heir to Scoria and Ash may have me completely engulfed in its depressive soundscapes, but the atmospheric, post-black, tunnel-shrieking dreariness it shares with the likes of Ethereal Shroud, and the progressive subtleties and tremolo-induced aggression of acts like Altar of Plagues, Mastodon, The Ocean, and Mgla, make Mortichnia‘s debut an intoxicating and memorable brew.
This mysterious band (perhaps the most mysterious group I have yet to research) is all about the atmospheres that inhabit their songs—incorporating some standout riffs and offering faint hints of the freedom at the tunnel’s end (without ever actually achieving it). The vocals of T.D. are typical, agonizing screams that reverberate down the long chasm created from the recording. These tunnel walls gleam with black, dragging you deeper into the suffocating darkness manifested by Mortichnia‘s doomy, droning heaviness.
Opener “Searing Impulse” burns fast and hot from the first match strike; however, the song never loses its composure and the track’s purpose is made present in every drum bludgeoning, guitar pluck, and thunderous bass tremolo—propelling each blackened riff, chest-throbbing sustain, and blood-curdling scream to its max. Follow-up track, “Carrion Proclamation,” takes it one step further; opening with a soothing intro that leads to a build that carries on for nearly fourteen minutes. Using Pelican-like approaches (but much heavier in delivery), this song sets a pace somewhere between granny-gear and neutral; remaining ever-dependent on the slothish, high-torque builds, the track finally lets go and nose-dives into a snail-like pace about three-quarters of the way in. After descending into this pit of despair, the song climbs back out with the greatest finale of the album. “Carrion Proclamation” may sound like a hell of a rollercoaster ride, but this song is one smooth dealer.
After a fitting, yet unnecessary, intermission, the back-half of this five-track expedition into oblivion picks up where “Carrion Proclamation” left off. As “The Waning” extinguishes itself after a mere two-minute runtime, “A Furious Withering” dives straight into a mid-career Mastodonian effort that leaves you numb and half-wishing for it to continue and stop at the same time. This song produces such high levels of hate, pain, and sadness that I feel both calmed and overwhelmed by the mindfuckery. Closer “Heir” channels all the emotions of Heir to Scoria and Ash into a concise, efficient, and focused expression of everything this debut has to offer. Wrapping up this soundtrack of stimulation and depression, “Heir” points all the elements of the album towards a climatic end—passing through a calming intro (much like the one found on “Carrion Proclamation”) into intense black-metal energies that transition neatly into some massive death-metal arrangements to finish of the album.
As should be expected from a band that consists of five members who go by two-letter initials, this Dublin-based group keeps the songwriting captivating, simple, and thick. Having been recorded and mixed back in December 2014 (these duties falling to Altar of Plague‘s James Kelly), Heir to Scoria and Ash has finally seen the light of day. Its compression may be typical, but the album is chock-full of passion, power, and a enough variety to make it a well-rounded journey. Mortichnia may not jump out at you or be exciting enough to stick in your head, but they are definitely an exciting one to keep an eye on.
Postscript: In recognition of National Unicorn Day (yes, that’s a thing now), we proudly present you with this gift of art to brighten your outlook.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Apocalyptic Witchcraft