Muertissima – Inquisition Review

I’m a fairly open-minded primate. Ask anyone on the approved asking list and they’ll tell you. This aforementioned open mind inspired me to take a chance on unknown French death metal act Muertissima and their full-length debut Inquisition. The promo bluster promised “dynamic death metal” with thrash and death elements and a willingness to embrace open and adventurous song structures. Some of that is in fact delivered over the nearly 50 minutes of Inquisition, and in some instances, it was a mistake to do so. You see, Muertissima are a very ambitious group, and over the course of the album, they try their hand at a series of styles and approaches, not all of which work in their favor or fit together in a rational, cohesive way. This makes for a strange, awkward and uneasy listening experience, even for those open to new ideas.

This is the classic story of a band trying to be all things to all people and in the process ending up without a real sound or identity. Opener “Lockdown” is bruising, straightforward old school death metal with interesting guitar flourishes and heavy, chunky grooves. It reminds me of their fellow countrymen Mercyless, but with a slightly more modern sheen. What they do here is entirely fine and enjoyable if a bit generic. An album of this would probably go over well, but that’s clearly not what the band had in mind. “Rise and Fight” is more like Amon Amarth smashed headlong into Machine Head – all rowdy fight metal with aggressive riffs that veer dangerously close to core and nu territories. It ends up semi-decent but far from essential. Then we jump all the way over to “Cerveza” which is like a death metal version of Korpiklaani where the band regales us with a jaunty, goofy ode to beer and excessive drinking generally. It’s like what Tom Angelripper did with his Onkel Tom pub rock project and it feels jarringly out of place amid the meaner death metal racket. Maybe it would work as a bonus track, but as the third track it feels like a big misstep.

As Inquisition rolls on, the genre and style experimentation continues lustily, with some tracks returning to the old school aesthetic rather successfully (“Inquisition”), while others feature a macho, chest-thumping, groove-heavy approach that’s much less endearing (“Glory to Loki”). They even try to shoehorn in some proggy ideas alongside a goodly dose of melodic black metal influence during “Wild Hunt” and it works, but only up to a point somewhere south of good. The album bogs down badly toward the end with back-to-back 7-minute epics “Shooting Gallery” and “Prometeus” both running far too long for their own good. The former is especially unloveable, forcing death, black, and tough guy groove metal into an unholy threesome where no one gets off but everyone catches something unpleasant. As the album closes with an out-of-left-field Flamenco guitar instrumental, you’re left wondering what the fook you just experienced and why. There’s little in the way of flow or cohesion to be found and at times Inquisition feels much more like a label’s sampler CD than an actual album.

This is a shame because the band has some ability and talent. When they stick to straight-up old school death, the results are decent, and I actually enjoy the title track. Matthias”Macchabée” Bonhoure and Stéphane Prados can play their guitars effectively and manage to blend several genres for influences and ideas. There are interesting riffs and harmonies appearing throughout the material, but things often feel too scattershot and random to result in truly memorable songs. Simon Perrin’s bass is audible and active at all times and he clearly knows what he’s doing. He’s not a bad vocalist either. His death grunts and roars are effective and his blackened shrieks and cackles land well enough too. The big problem is the songwriting, which is oftentimes all over the lot without much rhyme or reason. This leaves the bulk of the material on the outside of memorability looking in.

Muertissima have potential, but they need to seriously streamline their writing and avoid the urge to throw every genre possible at the listener. Inquisition is the sound of a band not yet ready for prime time and desperately in search of a sound and identity. Let this be a warning to you all. An open mind may lead to troubling experiences. Best to close that shit up.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 319 kbps mp3
Label: Music-Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 15th, 2021

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