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Ester Segarra

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Sonus Mortis | ‘Propaganda Dream Sequence’

I knew right away when I heard Sonus Mortis’ demo last year that the band’s future work would be fantastic.

Such things stand out like a sore thumb amid a deluge of dowdy demos.

When I say band, I suppose I mean person, in the form of Kevin Byrne – multi instrumentalist and obvious prodigy.

You wouldn’t think for a second that the orchestral dark metal powering out the speakers here is the product of anything less than a five piece firing on all cylinders. That’s the level of skill involved here.

Rarely do one man bands sound so full.

With the release of this debut album, Sonus Mortis are a real going concern. Borrowing intermittently from Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Therion, Triptykon, Dimmu Borgir and the odd nod to Devin Townsend, Byrne has crafted a dark and evocative hours worth of music.

Each of the tracks shows invention and variety.

‘To Lament, Mourn And Regret’ is a huge, imperious piece, with its clean, low vocal clearly referencing modern Paradise Lost from ‘Symbol Of Life’ onward.

The vaguely Strapping Young Lad feeling ‘Enter Oblivion’ follows it with a slightly futuristic, bodyhammer riffing style all laid over with impressive keyboard swathes. It sounds ace, and cinematic in scope.

And hold that thought. SYL get a further look in, in case there was any doubt about it, in ‘Automated Future’, with its speedy opening blast widening out to a very grand and spacious sonic outing.

There’s a lot to like in this album, with tones reminiscent of bands old and new. Amid all the studio wizardry Kevin hasn’t forgotten the essence of great underground metal, and as such ‘A Doctrine For The End Times’ opens with a very isolated and (again) almost Paradise Lost-esque melodic lead line – but with a tone from many albums ago.

If there were to be criticisms, and minor they are, it’s that that low string gets chugged just a little too much on occasion. Every song seems to have it in there somewhere, just hanging around. Kevin needs to move around the fretboard a bit more in the riffs.

Similarly though the vocals are massively improved on the demo, perhaps a little saminess creeps in not in the takes themselves, because they’re cool, but in the vocal patterns.

These are minor quibbles however in a frankly amazing achievement of expansive, immersive and compelling metal.

There’s no other words for it, the guy is a genius. Hear it.

4.1 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 05/03/14

  1. Great stuff as expected. Must pick up a hard copy soon. Would also be great to see this live.

  2. Cheers for the review, appreciate the kind words. Wanted to keep a certain pattern flowing with all the songs on the album. Criticisms noted 😉

    Uploaded another song for people to check out ->

  3. Very stylish and great guitar/bass tone!

    I would say that the Cartoon Network style cover art is strangely at odds with the sophisticated nature of the music though.

    I’ll be picking it up regardless 😉

  4. Black Shepherd Says:

    I’ve listened to these tracks quite a bit now and I think there’s as much about them that really impresses me as there are little things which irksomely hold it back from really flying. The overall sound is fantastic, each different vocal style is perfectly accomplished… but the pronounciation jars; I’ve no problem with accents, but I’ve difficulty imagining some kind of cyber creature pronouncing ‘th’ as a really strong ‘t’ – probably most people won’t notice this, so let’s pass that off as me being anal. I do think though that more thought should have gone into writing lyrics with a view to a solid machinal cohesion with the music – they’re brilliantly written, I think, but rhythmically they clash, have to be squeezed in or stretched out, in weird ways – once again, not something that matches a machine-like ambiance.

    Finally, the artwork… the music deserved something of Giger style richness, this looks more like the cover of a bad Star Wars inspired 80’s thrash band album. I mean, it’s fine as a picture, but it has absolutely nothing of the maturity of the music.

    Still though, as everyone is saying, I can only laud your musicianship – your talent deserves only that you be a little more of a perfectionist with yourself.

  5. Funny someone picked up on my pronunciations, guess I can half blame the speech therapy back many moons ago. 😛

    Interesting comments never the less and cheers for the time taken on it. Some aspects can be focused on/tightened up more.

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