Country: United States of America
Written by Aaron Michael Kobes
TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains intense subject matter such as, depression and suicide
MORTAL is a one-woman black metal project that hails from Portland Oregon. Though the band may be relatively young, six months in fact, there has been a heavy output including: singles, splits, ep’s and full lengths, the last of which, DEATH is the second. Starting out originally as an RABM project with great efforts such as DIE NAZI SCUM, and Eternal Vengenace, this latest release takes a more personal turn, something that has been increasingly familiar in MORTAL’s catalogue, yet never to this degree. I was fortunate enough to spend some time talking with the woman behind MORTAL the day after the release of DEATH, on New Years Eve, to learn more about the album, as well as the project itself.
One thing that is immediately clear going into DEATH, is that the listener is in for a disjointed, and chaotic journey through something intimate in the most somber and painful sense; from the opening track’s clunky drum patterns and detuned guitar melody, to its vocals that come in like a cold, harsh wind that cuts through to the very core of one’s being, this album demands to be suffered through. The set up is familiar to the DSBM scene, to be sure, but the package and delivery are what makes DEATH special, there is a chaotic drudgery created that makes one feel as if they are walking through the sludge of someone’s life in their darkest, most difficult place. This is, of course, by design as MORTAL states in our interview that the concept of DEATH: “…encompasses my view of how the world is when my depression is in full gear. Oftentimes, when it gets bad I’ll space out and wherever I’m looking I’ll see my own corpse dead in a multitude of ways”.
One gets personal knowledge of that disembodiment as they progress through the album, particularly in track three, simply titled DEATH III, where there is a sluggish, stumbling guitar riff which leads into the depressive beat of the drums that keep a restrained time that is antithetical to the frenetic screaming, as we delve deeper into the meat of the album. Up until the third track, there is a vague, eerie similarity between the preceding tracks that lends an air of madness, as if it were creeping in, and you are unsure if the track has changed or if it’s the same bleary and despair ridden focal point, or if you have simply descended further and further along into someone else’s own hell.
In a way, that is exactly what we are doing; traversing through someone else’s pain and extreme despair, for what MORTAL hopes is our own cathartic release; “I like making stuff that doesnt sound good unless you feel what im trying to convey…For the people who need to feel like they have something that is fucked up in their kind of way…for those who find solace in the chaos” and wants us; “…to keep fighting, know that you can listen to mortal (sic) throughout whatever pain you’re going through” in spite of what we may be feeling at the time. As if leading by example, MORTAL’s fourth track on DEATH, DEATH IV, breaks the depressive mold with a wall of sound in the form of fast tempo guitar riffs that blends tonally with the washed out vocals yet is a stark contrast sonically to what we’ve been presented with overall thus far, harkening back to the projects earlier RABM recordings.
It is this type of frantic-fighting for your life-energy that MORTAL brings to the creative process, in both unmitigated emotion and sheer driving willpower, that makes up for the fact that it has been less than a year into owning a guitar: “At this point music is a way to prolong my existence, before Entombed(Throne) and DEATH came out I always thought I’d release around maybe two or three things then off myself or something. That never came to fruition luckily. I got kind of more stable. I’m back at that point now which is where the new ep is coming from”. In no other way is this peaks and valleys sentiment expressed more clearly than In the transition of DEATH IV to DEATH V, wherein, the latter starts with a depleted energy from the exertion of the former, leaving the listener in a state of mental exhaustion, as if we spent the entirety of DEATH IV white knuckling our own screaming episode. DEATH VI is a continuation into the backslide of depression as a chugging guitar keeps steady time as it oozes up and down the fretboard, as it breaks off into the final two tracks, met with tempestuous screams that dissolve into harmonic string synths and the lowest end of a keyboard, to a final, drawl-ish goodbye with a subdued guitar.
DEATH is an album that needs to be experienced and reflected on, it is a major accomplishment in not only allowing complete strangers to explore a dark corner of an individual’s own pain, but also how it is a sonic journey along the annals of depressive thoughts, feelings and isolation. These tracks are pieces of a puzzle in the experience of the varying states of depression itself, and put the listener through a psychic ringer, yet leave them with a strange sense of peace, knowing the most harsh parts are behind us. This is an album of expression of one’s own personal struggles, as well as commiseration for those going through the same: “I feel like DEATH was the start of putting this personal thing into the word. Which is important. Cause without that first thing I would probably only be political…”. Let us all hope that Mortal continues to allow us a glimpse into the personal, Eva use it something that so many of us sorely need.
I see my life fade
Death marches to my doorstep
Coming with her knife
I see her beautiful figure
Drawing nearer and nearer
I smell the stench of decay
Growing closer as she
I feel my insides turn
Knife buried into my back
Blood marring the floor below me
I see my vision fade black
Please note that the band’s logo has changed from the release of this album, the new logo is featured below:
Be righteous by listening to and supporting MORTAL on Bandcamp”