Tardus Mortem – Armageddon Review

When the great overlord Steel Druhm says “jump,” all most some of us say “how high?” That’s after we grumble and complain and overrate and stamp our little feet, if at all. Here I am, waiting breathlessly for Mrs. Hollow to say the magic words,1 but in the meantime I need to cram as much brutality as I can into this blog. So when the mighty ape (He who reigns forever, Amen) says “I’d like to see a review of Tardus Mortem,” after a few well-deserved tantrums I raced to stuff my earholes with as much of Armageddon as I could. My feet are stamping, but is it because of the tantrum it causes or the groove that it evokes?

In spite of five tracks, Armageddon is a pretty massive undertaking, as its fifty-two minutes is comprised in majority by its first three tracks (forty-four minutes in total). Originally a thrash act called Blacklist, Tardus Mortem2 is a death metal trio from Denmark, sophomore full-length Armageddon is preceded by debut Engulfed in Pestilent Darkness and a slew of demos and singles over the last seven years. Blazing riffs, furious blastbeats, and bellowing vocals greet the ears, a decidedly OSDM interpretation with tinges of blackened death rawness and doom tempos. Ultimately, although Tardus Mortem offers little new, Armageddon comprises a vast journey of smoke-filled valleys in their blasphemous depiction of providence and Christian theology.

Tardus Mortem accomplishes bloated song lengths through miasmic riffs put through brief moments of menacing placidity, tempo shifts, and patient growth. Never changing is the album’s sense of immense claustrophobia, its riffs reflecting a gnarled quality a la Mitochondrion or Ulcerate, plus a filthy old-school fury that fits right alongside countrymen Phrenelith and Undergang. Armageddon is truly a strange bag, but this energetic quality is best reflected in the first two tracks “Condemned to the Halls of Infernal Sin” and “From Heaven’s Throne Thee Bring Forth Death,” where relentless riffs, furious drums, and hellish vocals collide in the album’s depiction of humankind’s crucified demise at the hands of seraphim. There is little breathing room, as riffs, solos, blastbeats, and growls assault the ears for the near-entirety of the runtime. This all comes to a head in the twenty-three-minute behemoth “Gust of Armageddon (Suicidal Winds),” which is unlike its two predecessors but is simply Armageddon’s best track. While earlier cuts showcase Tardus Mortem’s battery, the third track shows the act’s patience. Taking its time in infectiously haunting riffs that bathe themselves in droning bass and doom tempos, morphing seamlessly into passages of absolute pummel, it recalls Cryptic Shift in its fluidity.

While a major complaint about Tardus Mortem’s debut was its horrendous mix and noisy production, Armageddon similarly revels in OSDM murk, but any semblance of melody is intensely drowned out by the filth. Tardus Mortem’s main issue is that it’s truly suffocating, and while this works well for doomier passages and blackened death chops, particularly in the climactic passages of “Gusts of Armageddon (Suicidal Winds),” it relegates Armageddon to a more one-dimensional attack, limiting its attack to full pummel. This is no problem if the brutality is what you’re jonesing for, but the impact is lessened over time. Furthermore, the inclusion of the final two lukewarm tracks, a rerecording of former demo “Nun of the Pyre” and Grave cover “Into the Grave,” although sonically comparable to the album’s meat, make Armageddon’s closing act feel more like a compilation than a cohesive whole. It’s a small gripe, as they comprise a mere fraction of the album. Perhaps more glaring, Tardus Mortem offers solid tunes, but cannot hold a candle to the aforementioned Danish steamrollers Phrenelith or Undergang and may exist as a lukewarm interpretation of Danish OSDM brutality.

Tardus Mortem has released one hell of an album. It’s devastating, varied, and backed by rock-solid songwriting, as they can pack forty-four interesting minutes into three songs. It feels nicely atmospheric while never sacrificing its bite, and the balance between blackened bits and death metal is professional and smartly executed. That being said and last two tracks aside, Armageddon is tragically one-dimensional, as its putrid production and mixing is a blessing and a curse: it cranks the filth to eleven, but melody is lost in the scalding folds of churning magma. However, it’s a vast improvement over Engulfed in Pestilent Darkness and shows real potential, but these Danes have not quite made it yet. Armageddon warrants a foot-tapping good time, but no tantrums to be found.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Emanzipation Productions
Websites: tardusmortemdenmark.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/TardusMortemDenmark
Releases Worldwide: September 17th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. “We eednay to ogay to the ospitalhay to avehay the abybay.”
  2. No, not that Slow Death.
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